Review: Pathfinder Horror Adventures, Part III

Yesterday ended off about halfway through the Archetypes chapter of Horror Adventures; today I’ll be picking up from there with the Medium, one of the Occult Adventures classes. So far I’ve been enjoying what the book has to offer, but it is kinda my thing.

The thing with the Medium is what amounts to a set of archetypes for the character’s spirits, modifying the options available to fit them into a horror theme. The butcher modifies the champion spirit, for example, in favor of spilling blood and causing suffering. The spirit archeypes are butcher, deceiver, heretic, lich, terminator, and warmonger, each modifying a different spirit and changing the requirements of that spirit.

The Mesmerist makes my skin crawl a bit, I admit, because one of the offered archetypes is Gaslighter. Given the nature of gaslighting as a tool of emotional abuse, this one is kind of an iffy thing for me to feel happy about, although the way the abilities work is somehow less ugly than real-world gaslighting tactics.

The Haunt Collector is an archetype for the Occultist; partly tapping the abilities of a medium, but also gaining the ability to evoke the effects of haunts by unleashing the spirits in their haunted belongings. It’s a neat way to overlap things without making another hybrid class. The other archetype is also cool, but not as neat as the idea of wandering around with bottled ghosts.

Paladins get an archetype perfect for solo play; the tortured crusader is actually the archetype my wife is applying to her character for the solo play Ptolus game. Relying on Wisdom rather than Charisma and gaining extra skill points per level, they forego many of the group-friendly functions of the paladin class in favor of being lonely sentinels against the eternal darkness. They can’t detect evil, knowing that they’re surrounded at all times, and they don’t get divine grace (making the GM’s task in group play simpler when it comes to saving throws), but they do get a flat +4 to attack rolls and deflection AC on their smite ability starting at second level. Most usefully, at second level they can place a contingent use of lay on hands to trigger under specific circumstances, including the use of a mercy at third level.

Slayers get a family hunter archetype; something that would be of magnificent use in Ptolus, given certain noble houses steeped in deep wickedness. One of their niftier tricks is the ability to make their studied target not count as an ally to its allies when it comes to flanking and teamwork feats. Needless to say, this can do wonders to diminish the risk the slayer is facing.

Spiritualists get the necrologist archetype, who reaches into the Negative Energy Plane itself to draw upon the truly unquiet dead for their purposes. The big difference here is that this means their phantom is undead, rather than an outsider, with all of the tweaks to it that this entails. They also get the ability to channel negative energy, rather than their spiritual interference ability. It’s a nice archetype, particularly for a GM looking for a psychic necromancer.

The vigilante gets a bit of love, as well; they get an archetype that gives them alchemist abilities, and another archetype that essentially gives them Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Truth, although in a much grimmer fashion by using a noose. All of the latter archetype’s special abilities tie into literally going around with a hangman’s noose and using it against your foes, forcing them to confess the truth and choking them into submission.

The witch takes a turn for the Brothers Grimm, getting a Gingerbread Witch archetype. With a familiar made of animate gingerbread, a version of the cauldron hex that produces sweets and snacks, and the ability to literally chow down on people. That last ability gives the witch the ability to make a full-round bite attack that lets them use the swallow whole ability.

And then we have the wizard, who gets three archetypes – one is the Elder Mythos Scholar, which makes the wizard into something of a Mythos-spawn-hunting arcane cannon at the expense of their sanity and ability to deal with non-Mythos creatures; another is the Hallowed Necromancer, for everyone who has ever wanted to have a good-aligned necromancer. It still falls short of the idea I’ve seen bandied about, where a necromancer can raise the dead to seek justice for their own deaths or the like, but it’s a nice step toward the concept.

That wraps up the archetypes; some nice things in here, although a few fall flat, and there are some that are definitely either for an evil campaign or exclusively GM fodder. The next chapter covers feats; they introduce four new combat styles with attendant feats, alongside a host of other options. For those looking to use spiked chains as their weapon of choice, they have three kyton-themed feats using the spiked chain to build the Kyton Style feat line.

Fleshwarping turns up as the sole item creation feat here; with a need for Craft (Alchemy), Heal, and an evil alignment, you have a good pick for anyone who wants to have a vivisectionist alchemist toying with the forces of life for their own amusement. Given the nature of fleshwarping, GMs will want to think carefully before allowing this even in their evil-aligned campaigns.

There are four story feats; two in particular are of interest to me as a GM. Enemy Cult allows any PC with the feat to detect an alignment that will aid identification of members of the cult, and on completion grants bonuses against all creatures of that alignment, permanently. The other is Twisted Love, where a former love of the character’s life has returned as a foe obsessed with the character, or where a foe has mistaken the character for a lost loved one. It gives you bonuses against enchantments and a bonus to Bluff and Diplomacy against your foe. Completing it allows you to retain the save against enchantments, and enables you to pretend you’re under the effects without the caster knowing it – handy for surprise attacks.

Putrid Summons is a feat allowing any given summoned creature to have the stench ability; this one quite literally calls Lovecraft to mind, with “as a foulness shall you know them” coming up immediately. Skin Suit is a feat for humanoid undead; it permits them to grow a lifelike suit of fleshy material once per day, granting them a semblance of life to move around the world with. While it doesn’t protect the undead creature from the effects of daylight, it does function to obscure the creature’s alignment and makes them read as a living creature for spells and abilities that reveal such. Handy, if you want a lich to wander through the middle of the city as a respected citizen.

That sums it up for today; next time I’ll pick up with the next chapter, on spells and rituals!

Review: Pathfinder Horror Adventures, Part III

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