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Pathfinder Review - Part 2

Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.

The new cleric has had a few notable changes. The cleric lost heavy armor but automatically gains proficiency in his/her diety’s favored weapon. In 3.5, you only got that if you took the war domain. Now everyone gets it. A few skills got changed around. You lost Concentration but then Pathfinder dropped that skill all together. The cleric gained Appraise, Knowledge (Nobility), Linguistics (note: this is a new skill) and Sense Motive. Overall, I like the new skill list.

The old rules for turn undead are gone replaced by Channel Energy. I haven’t fully tested this yet but I think this could be a lot more fun to use and easier to use. You can also use it to heal your Party members, but be warned, you will need to take one of the selective channel energy feats in the book otherwise you may well end up healing the enemies if they are living creatures and not undead. This power essentially primarily deals a scaling amount of D6 damage to undead within a 30-foot radius burst. This damage maxes out at 10D6 at 19th level.

Domains grant 2 powers instead of one. I also wanted to make note that not only did Paizo attempt to fix the classes and put them more in line with each other but they also got a power Boost and for a few classes they got a big power boost.

Clerics now cast orisons which are 0-level spells that they can cast an unlimited number of times per day. Paizo did get rid of cure minor wounds and replaced it with stabilize. If you are evil, I believe it is called bleed. You can choose up to 4 orisons per day.

Overall, I think that the cleric has improved a fair bit in terms of flexibility and ease of use. As far as How much of an increase in the power curve of things did the cleric get? Answer: Hard to say, I think some of that will depend on the domains that you choose. The animal domain grants you an animal companion but at a -3 effective level. The fire domain gives you resistance and eventually immunity to fire at 20th level plus access to some really good sorcerer/wizard type spells like burning hands & fireball. Pathfinder has it’s own pantheon so you’ll need to get used to a new list of deities.


The druid got a couple of changes that are noteworthy. The first change is that the Druid now has a choice between choosing a domain from a short list or choosing an Animal Companion. This choice give player’s more flexibility for his/her character as to whether or not you wanted an animal companion as some people might not want one or if they felt that it wasn’t powerful enough to survive.

The animal companion got fixed enough in my humble opinion to the point that I do not feel that you need to pick a domain. The animal companion now levels at the same rate that the druid does and that has been a thorny issue that needed to be fixed for some time now. The druid is not a great melee class so having the animal companion around can really help out in a pinch. If you have a companion that flies…well that’s even better since you now have something that can go on short scouting missions.

The last big thing that changed is Wild shape. Now, instead of digging through your monster manual to figure out what your new stats are when you wild shape, the stats are presented as being identical to the new shape spells (beast, plant, elemental, etc) which of course replaced the old polymorph spell.

I know some people might not like it since it reduces your wild shape to a few stat boots and a handful of powers but I believe the intent was to speed up the game and to reduce the time spent for a player to go digging through a monster manual to figure out what your new stats are. It’s now all in one book. It may take a little getting used to but I think with a little imagination, most people will come to enjoy the new experience. I believe that Paizo employed a “KISS” it mentality when they re-wrote 3.5. KISS = Keep it, Simple Stupid !!! I for one will be very interested to see how far they went in streamlining the 3.5 system into this new release.

Finally, the Druid gains the following skills: Climb, Fly (new skill), Knowledge (geography), Perception (combined from listen, spot). These are all good choices and they all make sense.

I think the druid got cleaned up a little and gained some flexibility. The only real change in the Druid’s power curve is in the fact that animal companion now has a chance to keep up with the Druid but that’s ok since it’s been an established fact that the druid has long since been considered to be one of the most powerful classes in the old 3.5 system.


Out of all of the classes that needed a fix the most, I would say without a doubt the fighter needed it the most. The question is did the fighter get a big enough of a fix??? Answer: I’m not so sure.

The first thing I noticed is that the feats got consolidated into something much more readable and desirable when it came to figuring what the fighter could take as a “fighter bonus feat”. They are now called “combat feats”. YAY!!! This is much easier. The real issue here is whether or not the new feat list has enough feats that the fighter can use to stay relevant at all levels.

The fighter gets 11 bonus combat feats plus 10 general feats. If you play a human, you would end up with a whopping 22 feats. These feats are the fighter’s bread and butter and making the right choices at the right moment is absolutely crucial. Taking a quick gander through the feats, I notice feats like Vital strike & Penetrating Strike. Vital strike allows you to double, triple or even quadruple your damage on a single attack but you can only make a single attack on your turn. Penetrating strike allows you to ignore up to 10 points of damage reduction if you take both the regular feat and the Greater feat. I think these feats in conjunction with the new “critical” condition feats can help the fighter out quite a bit.

I will talk more about the feats when I get to the feat section but for now, I’d just like to say that the new “crit” feats are interesting but they are very much race & type dependent. It’s not like you can make an ooze go deaf so I’d be careful when you spend your Feats and not go too crazy on these. Fortunately, you can get replace old feats that you feel are no longer working for you. At 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter, you can replace one old feat for a new one.

The next thing is a power called “Bravery” which is essentially a scaling +1 to your will saves Vs. Fear. It maxes out at +5 at 18th level. This is good since it will help keep your meat shield from running home to mommy.

Armor training allows the fighter to lower his/her armor check penalty by 1 down to a minimum of 0 and it also adds +1 to his/her maximum dex bonus.

Weapon Training starts at 5th level and allows you to pick a group of weapons by type such as Heavy Blades, Light Blades, bows, crossbows, etc and you gain a +1 to hit & damage for all weapons in that group.

Every 4 levels thereafter you get to pick an additional group and apply that bonus as well. Here is the big bonus. The first group you picked now has it’s bonus increased by a further +1 to hit & damage and it continues to increase up to a max of +5 for your first group. Your second group maxes out at +4 and so on. It is very important to pick what you feel is the most important group for you character. Weapon training also stacks with weapon focus & weapon specialization so your bonuses will grow to become quite huge.

At 19th level, you gain a DR 5/- as long as you wear armor or wield a shield.

At 20th level, you pick one weapon. You can never be disarmed when using that weapon. Your crit threat range increases by 1 as well as the critical multiplier. You also automatically confirm possible crit’s with that weapon.

All in all, there have been quite a few positive changes for the fighter but I can’t help feel that more could have been done. It’s not so much that I’m worried about damage output, it’s just the fact that the Fighter never seemed to be very “special” to play. I think it would have been nicer to see the fighter have some sort of special schtick. I was thinking that maybe the fighter should gain some sort of simplified maneuver system, potentially similar to what was presented in the Book of Nine Swords. Although I understand that Paizo probably can’t do that due to a potential lawsuit from WOTC for stealing copyrighted material. I think it would be really cool to maybe give the fighter a way to perform a coup-de-grace against an opponent even if they are not helpless but say when the opponent is down to less than ¼ of their hit points or if they suffer from a special condition such as staggered, stunned, fatigued, exhausted, etc. It’s just a thought.


The new monk has undergone a few notable changes as well. The first big change was Flurry of Blows. Originally you started with 2 attacks at a -2 to hit and it maxed out with 5 attacks, 3 of them at +15, 1 at +10 & 1 at +5. It now starts with 2 attacks at a -1 to hit and then uses a Fighter BAB progression system adding a +1 at every level that maxes out at +18 at 20th level. The monk now has 7 attacks, 2 at +18, 2 at +13, 2 at +8, and 1 at +3. He is now quite literally a whirlwind of destruction. The monk now automatically starts with the stunning fist feat. This was an obvious fix since I hated spending a precious feat on something that you should’ve had all along.

The next big thing is Ki pool. This ki pool is equal to ½ monk level + wisdom modifier. You spend 1 point per round on the following: +20 land speed or 1 extra attack for flurry of blows at your highest attack bonus or +4 dodge bonus to your AC. These affects only last for 1 round. You also need to make sure that you keep at least 1 point in your ki pool otherwise your unarmed strikes will be considered to be normal and not magical nor lawful nor adamantine.

The monk also gets an expanded list of feats to choose from for bonus feats. I will get into those later when I review the feats but for now feats like Scorpion Style & Medusa’s Fist seem very interesting. The monk also gets the usual consolidation of skills with the exception that Knowledge (Arcana) got replaced by Knowledge (History). In short, The monk should be just as effective as the Fighter and the Barbarian, perhaps more so. I cringe to think of how powerful this new monk would be if you allowed the old Vow of Poverty feat.


Well what’s to say about the Paladin, It’s always been a really popular character all the way back to 1st edition. It was useful before and now it’s even more so. Quickly glancing at the chart, The paladin gets something new at every level. The rules for detect evil have been changed, it only works one object or person at a time within 60 feet and you have to concentrate for 3 rounds.

Smite evil now doubles in damage output if the enemy is an outsider or undead (i.e. 2 points per paladin level). The new big power is “Mercy”. This allows the paladin to not only lay on hands and heal damage but also remove condition effects such as fatigued, shaken, poisoned, diseased, blindness, deafness, etc). Since mercies work based on the lay-on-hands power, You gain a number uses equal to ½ your paladin + charisma modifier.

You also gain several new aura’s which give you immunities to certain types of spells and you can give your allies temporary access to the smite ability. At 17th level, you gain DR 5/evil and at 20th, it becomes DR 10/evil. Your smite evil power will then be able to banish evil outsiders. Your paladin can also channel positive energy just like a cleric but uses up 2 uses of your lay on hands ability. You gain an extra 1st level spell and an extra 2nd level spell but that’s about it as far as spellcasting goes.

Overall, I think the paladin does a bang-up job playing a backup healer. The new upgraded lay on hands abilities really makes having one in the party become a real life-saver.


The ranger hasn’t been too popular of a character in 3.5 at least not in my gaming group. Let’s see if whether or not the new Ranger is more to our liking. The ranger’s hit die is bumped up to a D10. He gains improved evasion at 16th level which is very useful even if you are getting it late in the game. The big things of note are the “Combat style feat”. Personally they should have renamed this to something else like “Combat Paths” or something. Basically, you get 1 of 2 choices. Archery or 2 weapon combat. You get a total of 5 bonus feats to boost your character but only in 1 path and you can’t mix or match.

Next up is favored terrain, you get a +2 bonus to perception, geography, stealth & survival checks in that terrain. In the higher levels, you can track while running. Oh, I almost forgot, you have the option of either bonding with your allies or gain an animal companion. The animal companion levels at your level but at -3. The ranger also get a save or die power at 20th level. If you hit a favored enemy with a single attack at your highest BAB, the favored enemy has to make a fort save or die. As I said before… not keen on save or die effects. The ranger gets some nice bump ups but I’m not a big fan of the ranger.


The rogue gets a hit die bump to D8. The big things that the Rogue get are Rogue Talent, Advanced talent’s and Master strike. Rogue talents allow you to potentially (cast a low level spell such as a 0-level or 1st-level), bonus combat feat, weapon focus, temporary hit points, a bleeding attack that deals and 1 point of extra damage per die of sneak attack, quick disarm trip or easier to spot a trap. The advanced talents are improved evasion or slippery mind (reroll against enchantment spells), or a bonus feat, or skill mastery (you can take a 10 even during combat against a number of skills = 3 + int modifier). Master strike gives you the ability to either put the
target to sleep, paralyzed or dead. You get a save against it. If you are immune to sneak attack then you are immune to the effect. Ah well, it looks like another point deduction for introducing yet one more save or die effect. The rogue got better but only slightly.


The big things that changed with the sorcerer. The familiar feat was replaced with eschew materials. This was an obvious fix since I’ve never used a familiar with the sorcerer. Although having a familiar is not as painful as it used to be if it died. You gain a free bloodline. This makes perfect sense and since it’s free, I no longer lose levels taking a bloodline or spending feats to make the sorcerer more useful. The bloodlines are quite extensive and from what I hear more of them will be coming in next year’s Advanced Player’s Guide. Some of them are quite powerful such as Air Elemental which allows you to fly 60 feet with average maneuverability at 15th level and at 20th level you are immune to electricity. You can even throw small electric bolts at your enemies. You also gain 9 bonus spells (1 per spell level) and 3 bloodline feats. The Sorcerer now has a D6.

Interestingly enough, the Draconic bloodline ties in directly with the Dragon Disciple prestige class but more on that later. Overall, I love the new Sorcerer and is definitely much more in line with the rest of the classes. The only minor caveat is the fact that the bonus spells show up later than I care for. I may end up house-ruling that you get the bonus spells 1 level earlier each respectively.


Finally, the last class. The wizard is hit die bumped to D6. The wizard can now bond to an object and not just a familiar. The bonded object can automatically cast one spell that is in your spellbook once per day even if it isn’t prepared. You can also add powers to it via magic item feats.

You can now pick an arcane school and instead of just getting a small bump up in effective spellcasting and maybe a bump in DC saves. You now actually gain a few real powers. For example, the Abjuration school allows you to have energy resistance with eventual immunity.

You gain a deflection bonus to your AC and you can do Energy Absorption. This is pretty sweet stuff. The wizard has always been the “go-to” class and has always been really powerful. It gained a little bit of power but is more fleshed out now as role-play class.

Chapter 4 – Skills

A quick list of skills that got consolidated.

Hide & Move Silent = Stealth
Listen, Search & Spot = Perception
Balance, Jump & Tumble = Acrobatics

Gather Information & Concentration got deleted.
All concentration checks are D20 + caster level + ability modifier + any applicable power or feats.

Fly is a new skill
Linguistics is a new skill but was sort of re-added from 3.0

Basically, 10 skills got removed but 5 took their place for a net loss of 5. I may have gotten the count wrong but I think that’s right.

Some of the rules changed as to how you approach each new skill but I’ll leave it to you to read up on it. The one big thing of note is that if you have at least one rank or more in a class skill then you get a bonus +3 to the check. This is very helpful but you are only allowed a maximum of ranks equal to your level. I still don’t think you get enough ranks and I may have to house rule in some extra ranks. I would like to say that I like the new list.

Chapter 5 – Feats

Here is the list of the new groupings for feats:

Combat Feats – This is a new group and a fix from the old Fighter bonus feat problem of old.

Critical Feats – This is a brand new group to help fix the fighter primarily

Item Creation Feats

Metamagic Feats.

I can’t go through all of the feats but I am going to try and touch on the ones that I felt were really important. The first general thing that I noticed was that some of the old skill check feats got a minor bump-up. Example: Athletic = +2 to climb & swim checks. You now get +4 if you have 10 or more ranks. This bump-up plays out in several other skill check feats.

The first new feats that I really like is Arcane Armor training. There are 2 levels. The 2nd being Arcane armor mastery. Each one gives a 10% point reduction in arcane spell failure chance when casting thru armor. If you have both feats, you get a 20% point reduction. The only caveat is that for some strange reason, you have to spend a swift action to activate it. Ok, this just begs the question, Just what exactly are you doing during that swift action? Adjusting your codpiece… shifting that chain metal bra ??? I mean come on… seriously, spend a swift action? No, I don’t
think so. I’m going to house rule that it’s a permanent effect and you don’t have to spend an action.

Wind stance and Lightning Stance give you 20% & 50% concealment when you are on the move.

These are awesome feats. Granted the requirements are somewhat stiff but they should be considering what your getting.

Scorpion Style allows you to reduce a target’s speed to just 5ft. Gorgon’s Fist allows you to stagger your foe if his speed has been reduced and Medusa’s wrath allows you to make 2 extra attacks against a hindered foe. All in all these chain feats are designed to stop someone dead in their Tracks and beat them into oblivion. I’ll be very interested in testing this out someday.

Sometime next week, I will try to put out Part 3 which will finish the feats section and then jump into combat and possibly magic. Till then...

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Updated 12-08-2009 at 08:56 AM by WhiteTiger

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