Monday, November 18, 2013

Thoughts on the Upcoming Advanced Class Guide for Pathfinder

Okay, so I'm a big fan of Pathfinder and one of the reasons for that is the wide selection of classes available for play.  Pathfinder has 19, plus three alternate versions, plus a huge array of archetypes which create specialty versions of all of the classes.  With such a huge selection it's really hard to not find something you want to play.  Nevertheless, the creative people at Paizo are after my money again (darn those creative type people with all their creative creativity!).  This time they are doing the Advanced Class Guide.  However, rather than presenting entirely new classes, the guide will have ten mixes of existing classes.  As revealed on the Paizo site they are:

Bloodrager: This blend of sorcerer and barbarian can call upon the power of his blood whenever he goes into a rage. He also has a limited selection of spells he can call upon, even when in a mindless fury!

Hunter: Taking powers from both the druid and the ranger, the hunter is never without her trusted animal companion, hunting down foes with lethal accuracy.

Shaman: Calling upon the spirits to aid her, the shaman draws upon class features of the oracle and the witch. Each day, she can commune with different spirits to aid her and her allies.

Slayer: Look at all the blood! The slayer blends the rogue and the ranger to create a character that is all about taking down particular targets.

Swashbuckler: Break out your rapier and your wit! The swashbuckler uses panache and daring to get the job done, blending the powers of the fighter and the gunslinger! For those of you who don't use guns in your campaign, fear not—the base class is not proficient in firearms (although there will certainly be an archetype in the book that fix that).

Warpriest: Most religions have martial traditions, and warpriests are often the backbones of such orders. This mix of cleric and fighter can call upon the blessings of the gods to defeat enemies of their faiths.

Brawler: This class blends the fighter and the monk, creating a warrior whose sole focus is unarmed combat and martial maneuvers, without any of the mysticism of the monk. This class is designed specifically to beat up monsters, with a full base attack bonus progression (like a fighter) and improved unarmed strike damage (like a monk). To top it off, the class is also very skilled at making combat maneuvers.

Skald: Taking parts of the bard and the barbarian, this class can rage and inspire rage in its allies (we initially called it the “bard-barian” in-house). Instead of inspiring speeches and words of encouragement, the skald incites fury and anger in his allies, allowing them all to go on a murderous rampage.

Arcanist (a mix of sorcerer and wizard)

Investigator (a mix of alchemist and rogue)

Well, after reading through those I'm a bit disappointed.  Because these are mixes of existing classes, shouldn't this really be called the Advanced Multi-classing Guide?  Can't you do all of the above by either multi-classing or modifying an existing class with archetype and skill and feat selections?  I would rather they did an Advanced Player's Guide 2 and make up half a dozen completely new classes.  Granted, with so many existing classes it might be hard to come up with something really new--plus, the great third-party publishers supporting Pathfinder already have some good stuff out there.

Anyway, here are my quick gut reactions to the ten offerings:

Bloodrager: Barbarians are generally dumb and boring, but this might actually make them interesting by adding sorcerer bloodline magic.  However, I can't see myself ever playing one.

Hunter: Rangers are also kind of boring, and you can multi-class into Druid already. So, I can't see myself ever playing one.  I'd just play a druid

Shaman: Oracles and Witches are two of the coolest classes in the game (the third being clerics).  So yeah, I'm looking forward to seeing an organic blend of the two.  I'd probably play one.

Slayer: Rangers are kind of boring and rogues have a limited role.  You could just multi-class here, couldn't you?  Highly unlikely I'd play one.

Swashbuckler: You can already do this with fighter builds and/or gunslinger builds.  Fighters are boring so it's unlikely I'd play one, even if it comes with a free pirate eye patch.

Warpriest: Okay, this includes a cleric so it can't be all bad.  A blasty cleric with extra fighty goodness baked in could be very fun.  I played a blasty-oriented cleric in my buddy Steve's last campaign and it was a lot of fun.  This is my second favorite after the Shaman.  I would probably play one.

Brawler: I just can't see a non-mystical (i.e., no ki powers) fighter type.  A monk punching a dragon is a martial application of mystical forces.  Some big knuckle-dragger punching a dragon is just not credible.  Like Rocky taking on Smaug.  Not gonna happen.  Plus without weapons it's a really, really boring version of the already boring fighter.  I'd never play one, except maybe as a joke in a one-off game.

Skald: Barbarians are generally dumb and boring (as noted above), but this compounds the problem by adding in the dorky Bard.  Bards are so dorky it's hard to describe how totally dorky they really are.  As with the Brawler I'd never play one, except maybe as a joke in a one-off game.

Arcanist: Hmm, I couldn't find much detail on this one, but I can't see how it would differ from just multi-classing sorceror and wizard.  I might play one if the class included some interesting casting mechanics or something.

Investigator: I couldn't find much detail on this one either, but a mix of Alchemist and Rogue sounds really weird.  This sounds like a niche class for games centered on exploration and mystery-solving.  It's so weird I'm not sure if I'd play one, but I'm interested to see exactly how it works.

Naturally, thinking about the ten class mashups above got me thinking about what class mashups I'd do if I only had a blog or something to post them on...

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