Review: Pathfinder Horror Adentures, Part II

Today I’ll be continuing my spelunking through the latest Pathfinder sourcebook, Horror Adventures; yesterday saw us most of the way through chapter one, through the Sanity rules. Today I’ll be picking up with the section on Corruption – not the average and familiar corruption of police and politicians, but the supernatural form that can afflict even the noblest of heroes.

Corruption is, in these terms, a malign force, thought, or presence within a character that manifests in ways that provide both a gift and a stain; these gifts can be used as supernatural powers now tied to the character, bought at a terrible price. Each corruption is different, with eleven examples to pick from or use as a basis for your own designs.

Corruptions, it seems, come with three major parts: the stage, the stain, and the gift. The stage comes in three levels, each one more horrible than the last; you may fly into a frenzy and attack small animals to devour them at the first stage of corruption, but the third stage may see you twisted into a monstrous form and trying to devour family members and friends in a cannibalistic frenzy. You don’t progress unless you meet the requirements of progression as decided by the GM; some are going to be more punishing than others, and each such event includes a saving throw to try to hold your inner darkness at bay.

The stain is the negative side effect that comes along with a manifestation of a gift; something that gives you a malevolent stare as a gaze attack may cause your eyes to bulge and become perpetually bloodshot, penalizing your Perception checks and making your eyes blatantly obvious unless disguised by physical means such as a hood or the like. Stains are nasty, and meant to balance the power of a given gift. The more benevolent version of the corruption rules allow you to refuse to accept a stain, although doing so may well limit the gifts you gain as a result.

Lastly, there’s the gift. Corruption is nothing if not seductive, offering you a wide array of potential powers (usually chosen by the GM as an affliction, but the benevolent version allows you to pick your own gift) to augment your character. Of course, using them tempts you to slide deeper into corruption, heading to stage 3 corruption and transformation into a monstrously evil NPC. Still, things like gaining natural armor or the ability to inflict paralysis can be rather tempting, right? I won’t detail the options they give, other than to note that you’ve got plenty of options for the source of the corruption – undeath, outsider influence, and even Things From Beyond The Stars.

Past this listing, we’ve got racial rules and options. Dwarven racial traits reinforce the trope of them being suspicious but stalwart defenders against the dark; paladins in particular get a nice touch, getting a single favored enemy to get Knowledge bonuses against, and if you pick the same foe six times your smite gets a boost, too. Elves get a touch on the whole ‘inhuman beauty’ and ‘ancient wisdom’ bit; the witch bonus is a nice one, giving a boost to identifying cursed items and spotting possession and enchantment.

Gnomes get their creepy fae heritage played up; the druid animal companion gets into the act, gaining DR/cold iron as a possible favored class bonus, and the magus gets to play with illusion spells. Half-elves have a lot going to reinforce their mixed ancestry, with some traits to be more human, more elven, or blatantly mismatched among their body parts, while half-orcs ramp up the brutal aspect of their ancestry with their trait options; the DR/- against nonlethal damage and bonus to saves vs spells with the pain descriptor speaks volumes to the expected harsh lives of such characters. Half-orcish fighters get to ramp up that DR at 1/2 point per level of favored class bonus.

Halflings mostly build on their incredible resistance to evil and wickedness, with a side of uncanny valley and savage jungle halfling thrown in for spice. Halfling monks can get an advantage on knocking enemies prone and then pounding them into a pulp. Human traits focus on the habit that fantasy humans have of crossbreeding with literally anything, offering traits involving ancestry from the deeps, giants, reptiles, and more. The human class bonuses are nice, although the inquisitor getting an edge of seeing through magical disguises or spotting invisible creatures is probably a winner here; the psychic getting a better flat-footed AC is nothing to sniff at, though.

Chapter two! Archetypes and class options, coming up. I’ll be skimming to pick and choose some of the more interesting ones, here. Alchemists, for example, can get the blood alchemy archetype, which allows them to create blood-infused alchemical circles and to use the lifeblood of a living creature they’ve killed to get bonus extracts per day. It’s as gruesome as it sounds, really.

Barbarians get some new rage powers – totem powers based on daemons, and an ability that lets the barbarian fly into a rage in response to a fear effect, gaining the rage’s bonus to Will saves. They also get an archetype that effectively makes them lycanthropic while in a rage. For those clerics looking to dabble in the power of the Great Old Ones, there’s the Elder Mythos Cultist archetype; if you’ve ever wanted to channel the sanity-blasting and flesh-eroding power of the dark and unspeakable side of the uncaring cosmos, this is a good archetype for you!

For the druid who sees civilization as an abomination, there’s now a devolutionist archetype; you get a devolved humanoid for an animal companion, strip the effects of domestication from beasts, and even pick up a ritual to forcibly devolve a humanoid or animal to a monstrous feral state! And if you’ve ever wanted to hybridize a witch and an inquisitor, the hexenhammer inquisitor archetype is there for you – inquisitors with conflicted guilt over their own hexes, what more could you want?

Investigators can specialize in becoming cult hunters, seeking out madness in others, learning the ways of the planes and the twisted summons of the void, and even becoming an expert in fighting summoned horrors. Kineticists can become dark elementalists, casually offloading some of their burn into the souls of those they’ve killed, torturing the soul as it flees into the afterlife. Naturally, such elementalists can’t be anything but evil.

Tomorrow I’ll continue going through the archetypes chapter, starting off with the medium!

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Review: Pathfinder Horror Adentures, Part II

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