This collection of player-facing material clocks in at 44 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page introduction,3 pages of SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 35 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
As befitting of the book, we begin with a rather wide array of new archetypes, the first of which would be the explorer ranger, who gets favored terrain at 1st level, and an additional favored terrain at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter. Instead of mapmaker, they learn to make excellent maps, which function akin to artisan’s tools, bestowing a +2 circumstance bonus on Survival checks to avoid being lost and Knowledge (geography). Completed maps may be sold, and mapmakers can instead make shoddy ones that penalize those using them instead. These bonuses/penalties btw. increase by 2 at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter, and yes, such counterfeit maps may be identified. Additionally, track is replaced with a scaling bonus to aforementioned skills. Instead of the combat style feat gained at 2nd level, the explorer gains terrain bond: While in favored terrain, all allies within line of sight that can hear the explorer gain ½ the favored terrain bonus to initiative, Perception, Stealth, and Survival. More importantly, they leave no tracks, unless they wish to. This humble sentence makes the ability much more interesting and pretty potent for e.g. resistance/guerilla type of scenarios. 3rd level provides favored enemy, with additional favored enemies gained every 5 levels thereafter. At 6th level, we have unfettered stride, which allows for the ignoring of non-damaging terrain and manages to precisely state how it behaves in conjunction with the like. It also clarifies how it does not eliminate the need for skill checks and the like – big kudos there. 7th level nets a bonus language, as well as an array of language-themed bonus spells that are added to his spell list.
At 8th level, the archetype gets the ability to create multiple maps and even a super handy master map, replacing swift tracker. Trailblazer is gained at 10th level, and is interesting, allowing these guys to basically clear the path for allies – if they follow in his footsteps, they get the benefits of unfettered step! Additionally, the archetype gets the ability to sacrifice a prepared 3rd level spell to dispel terrain modifying spells! Really cool! 11th level replaces quarry with blindsense 30 ft., which is upgraded to blindsight 30 ft. at 19th level. 14th level upgrades unfettered stride to allow for free movement through water and magically-altered terrain, replacing the style feat gained there. At 18th level, the explorer no longer fails a save on a natural 1, and the alternate capstone nets continuous freedom of movement and he no longer provokes AoOs from creatures that have movement impeded by conditions or terrain. Cool!!
The second ranger archetype within the pdf is the Hidden Guardian, who must be good and gets Diplomacy instead of Knowledge (dungeoneering). Instead of favored enemy, the archetype gains studied strike, as a slayer, and 4th level replaces spells with lay on hands, with hidden guardian level as paladin level. Hunter’s bond is replaced with mercies at paladin level -1, and 9th level nets immunity to divination spells and effects that allow for a save to negate. The hidden guardian can choose to still be affected. 11th level extends this to encompass even divination spells that usually don’t allow for a save to negate, which require a CL check to affect the hidden guardian. This replaces evasion, quarry and improved quarry. Evasion is relegated to 16th level, where it replaces the improved standard. 20th level nets constant mind blank.
The fey mesmerist must have the fey type and chooses a specialism from illusion, enchantment, light, nature or shadow. When the archetype would gain a trick, one can instead elect to learn 2 spells of a level currently available to the list of spells known – a massive and cleverly-curated list of spells by specialism is provided, spanning 2.5 pages…and better yet, more obscure spells have been reprinted in the appendix for your convenience. 3rd level nets DR 1/cold iron, which improves by +1 at 6th level and every 3 levels thereafter. Very cool: The DR actually interacts properly with other sources of DR, changing the bypass requirements to “cold iron and…”, if applicable. This replaces consummate liar, touch treatment, glib lie and 5th level’s bold stare. Instead of mental potency, 5th level yields a spell DC increase for specialism spells that further increases at 13th level. The archetype gets an apotheosis that changes the DR to DR/-, and the character now may be treated as either fey or humanoid, whichever would be more advantageous. Kudos for going the proper route here instead of the invalid double type error so commonly encountered.
The greenweaver kineticist adds Knowledge (nature) and Handle Animal to the class skills. Green weavers are locked into wood as primary element, and are treated as phytokineticists, gaining wood blast and flesh of wood as simple blast and defense wild talent, respectively. Additionally, infusions à la deadly earth, plant disguise etc. may be used with wood blast and its composites. However, since the archetype draws from the First World instead of the Ethereal, the kineticist may not take Reverse Shift. This also, obviously, ahs some flavor ramifications that you can develop. The greenweaver treats Con as 4 higher for the purpose of kineticist abilities, including save DCs and damage dealt as well as Burn accepted. Greenweavers are treated as a plant creature and fey creature in addition to being humanoid, but does not gain the traits and immunities of these types. It is clear that this represents a kind of Achilles’ heel, but there is one corner case that is not taken into account: When an effect, for example, buffs plants and penalizes humans, which effect is gained? It’s clear that the detrimental one is applied, but explicitly stating that would have been nice. This replaces the 1st level infusion.
2nd level’s utility wild talent is replaced with DR 1/cold iron, which improves by +1 for every 2 class levels beyond 2nd. Here, there is a cut-copy paste snafu, as the ability refers to a feat and talks about the option to accept burn to increase DR until burn is next removed, This enhanced DR caps at kineticist level, fyi. 3rd level yields sprouting surge, which applies whenever you accept burn while using a wild talent or negate burn with gather power while using a wood talent. This generates a burst of plants that damages unattended objects, and the terrain is made heavily wooded for a brief duration, and yes, this has proper synergy with e.g. Brachiation of Roots. The radius of the burst scales, and at 9th level, you also get to make a Con-based combat maneuver check to bull rush targets and cause minor damage. This replaces elemental overflow normally gained at 3rd, 9th and 15th level. Elemental overflow is instead gained at 6th level, and for the purpose of the ability, the archetype treats their class level as ½. 5th level nets alter self, entangle, charm person and memory lapse as at-will SPs that require 1 burn to accept, but only in wooded terrain. At 10th level, there are more SPs added, though these cost 2 burn. The modify memory SP gained there can btw. be used as a standard action. 15th level further expands this list with more potent options that cost 3 points of burn. Save DCs are btw. based on Constitution. This replaces 5th level’s infusion. 7th level locks the archetype into Void as second element and allows for the use of Knowledge (nature) to analyze fey and creatures from the shadow realms. Infusion specialization is gained at 8th level, and kineticist level is treated as 3 lower for the purpose of the ability. This is an impressive one – its checks and balances are carefully crafted and make the phytokineticist style work with a distinctly fey touch. Nice!
Kineticist fans get more, though: Persistent Infusion is a 1st level Burn 1 substance infusion for earth, water or wood, and it leaves behind matter. Cool: For 1 burn, your matter (which allows for some really creative tricks!) may be treated as caltrops. We also get 10 new wild talents: Verdant Aura (2nd level) lets you create an aura that allows for the use of woodland step etc.; Desolate, the 3rd level Burn 1 lets you go Dark Sun – you can render up to 100 ft. of land permanently infertile. This is really frightening once you think about it! Hostile Flore, also 3rd level, 0 Burn, lets you use plants in a 30 ft.-range as sources of blasts. Usually, plants take minor damage, though, with the right combo, you can blast through them sans hurting them. Cool: Range infusions extend the reach. The two level 4 utility wild talents build on previous ones. Hostile Woodwork lets you fire through wooden structures – and in a very cool limit, abuse of casting through magic items has a unique anti-abuse caveat. Verdant Overgrowth builds on the plant aura mentioned, allowing for entangling and concealment.
We also get two level 5 wild talents: Continuous Regrowth nets fast healing 1 while flesh of wood is active, which does btw. increase for burn accepted. Thankfully, the ability has a healing cap and certain damage types temporarily negate the ability. While it is gained late, this, theoretically, can allow you to grant infinite healing to allies via HP-transference. Slowly and inefficiently, granted, but yeah. Grasping Overgrowth upgrades verdant overgrowths’s benefits to black tentacle-like grappling. There also are two 7th level options: Horticultural Animation nets animate plants minus entangle options, with Burn for extended duration. The utility wild talent thankfully has an anti-abuse caveat. Finally, Rapid Regrowth enhances the fast healing to regeneration that is harder to offset. Same criticism applies, but at this high a level, it’s even less efficient to cheese this. So yeah, those should not break the game.
The huntsman medium gains proficiency with ranged martial weapons and simple weapons, and draws spells from the hunter’s spell list, with only ranger spells and druid spells of level 4th or lower are considered to be part of the spell list. These spells are cast as psychic spells. The archetype can’t cast alignment-specific spells. Instead of archmage, the archetype gets the Animal Spirit legendary spirit, and Druid instead of hierophant. What do these do? EDIT: So, I believe in transparency when I do mess up, even slightly, and I had a small cognitive failure there – the spirits are part of Occult Archetypes, but they are NOT reproduced in this pdf. So, you’d need that pdf to use them, and the book doesn’t specify the source, which is a bit of a bummer. Animal Spirit’s spirit bonus applies to atk and damage with natural attacks and skill checks pertaining animals and plants. Séance boon nets a natural AC increase by 1, and favorite terrain is equal to that of the native terrain of the animal type invoked. Influence penalty to CL-checks, Cha-based and Int-based checks. Taboos include not speaking, not wielding manufactured weapons and not eating anything you don’t kill yourself. The abilities include getting some animalistic qualities like claws and darkvision, swim speed, etc., bonuses applied to animals summoned that match the animal embodied, bestowing standard actions to animals and plants, and as a capstone, we get save boosts and a 1/day summon nature’s ally IX. The Druid spirit is a modification of the hierophant that gets different spirit powers that include druid spells (as per archmage arcana, save that it applies to druid spells); influence for casting sans slot-expenditure, semi-spontaneous casting via influence and a 1/day no-influence cast are provided.
But back to the archetype, shall we? 2nd level replaces shared séance with track, and propitiation is replaced with swift tracker. The second medium archetype within is the natural channeler, who gets Knowledge (geography, nature) instead of Knowledge (planes, religion), and uses the Druid spirit instead of hierophant. Shared séance is replaced with woodland stride. Haunt channeler gets replaced by trackless step. 4th level’s spirit bonus increase is replaced with resist nature’s lure. 4th level nets wild shape as though a druid of the level of the medium, and summon monster spells are replaced with summon nature’s ally. The archetype comes with brief advice on how to adjust the archetype to instead be a swamp strider, etc.
Bards may elect to become jesters, who replace bardic knowledge with Antagonize. The bardic performances include a debuff instead of inspire courage, a sanctuary-like effect instead of inspire competence. Dirge of doom is replaced with a remove fear combo’d with a buff, and inspire greatness is replaced with a performance that causes random effects. Frightening tune is replaced with a song of discord-like performance, and at 15th level, we get “The Joke’s On You”, inverting competence and insight bonuses of foes – cool! This ability also allows for the expenditure of bard performance rounds for a chance to negate critical hits. I am pretty sure that this is supposed to replace inspire heroics. 2nd level nets ridiculous weaponry, which translates to Catch-Off Guard or Throw Anything, and using an improvised weapon nets a bonus to Bluff to feint and atks rolls as part of aid another. Slightly odd: The ability continues to state that the jester can juggle objects and use e.g. different weapons as part of attacks. This section is a bit weird and looks like a line is lost or something like that. I’m pretty sure that a cut-copy-paste glitch is here: “…he is juggler is considered…” This feels like half on the ability has gone missing. The archetype is locked into versatile performance choice of Comedy at 2nd level and does not gain more versatile performance. 5th level nets Improved Dirty Trick and may use Charisma instead of Intelligence for Combat Expertise prerequisites. 1/day, the jester can add Cha-mod to some combat maneuvers, and it does not provoke AoOs. 10th level and every 5 levels thereafter net a bonus feat chosen from a list. This replaces loremaster and jack-of-all-trades. 6th level’s versatile performance is replaced with the ability to affect targets sans shared language with targeted comedy, with each iteration of the ability’s gain providing one type and subtype where these benefits apply.
Cavaliers can become knight-surgeons, who get Heal as a class skill. The archetype may not belong to an order ability that grants or improves a mount….because he doesn’t get one. Instead, the archetype adds ½ class level, minimum 1 to Heal and Craft (alchemy) to make medicinal items. Cavalier’s charge is replaced with touch treatment, and expert trainer and the charge-ability progression is replaced with weapon training. There actually is an archetype of sorts provided – the footman knight, who instead gains stern gaze and armor training. Cavaliers also can choose a new the order of the woodland may never initiate hostilities versus fey, animals or plants unless these start, and vow to protect nature from exploitation. Challenge lets you move at full speed (extends to mount, fyi) through undergrowth when charging towards the enemy, but it does not work to mitigate magical undergrowth or terrain. Cover bonus, if anything, is halved, and concealment-based miss chances are also reduced. Skill-wise, we have Knowledge (nature) and Survival and +1/2 class level to them (min +1) related to forest-based checks. As far as order abilities are concerned, we get scaling bonuses to initiative and Perception checks in forest terrain, and the cavalier gets a scaling AC bonus when adjacent to a tree. In such a case, the cavalier also can’t be flanked. 8th level nets woodland rider, which lets you pass through even magically manipulated undergrowth etc. 15th level nets greensight.
The pdf also contains a massive feat-section. The first of these would be Fairy Blessing, which nets you +2 to Diplomacy and Knowledge checks made with regard to fey. You also get +1 to saves vs. mind-affecting effects, +2 versus those sourced from fey. Sounds sucky? Well, there is a reason for that. This is basically a feat-tax feat that acts as a prerequisite for the (Faerie) feats that follow. Unless I have miscounted, there are 12 such feats herein. Doesn’t sound like much? Well, these are “Clinton Boomer”-feats. If you’re not familiar with Clinton’s long and storied work, these feats are MASSIVE, with most of them spanning about ½ a page. They also often are designed to allow for very specific character concepts and go, in power, often a step beyond what you expect from feats. Blazing Eyes & Mad Howls of the Jabberwock may be taken as a Dampened Versatility by the Elemental Annihilator, and may only be taken by Pyrokineticists with lawful alignments. The feat makes you draw energy from the First World and prohibits you from taking Reverse Shift; while in the woods, you’re considered to possess the Air element for purposes of infusions and wild talents, and all blasts get the [air] descriptor. You can choose to accept a point of Burn as a full-round action to execute a “burble” –a confusion-inducing 30 ft.-spread or create a sonic cone-blast. You can also shroud yourself in winds that can potentially blow targets away if they fail a Strength check. That’s not how repositioning usually works in PFRPG. You do start looking a bit jabberwocky-like and do count as other types for detrimental purposes. My aforementioned criticism regarding multiple types applies, obviously, here as well. The feat also makes you VERY paranoid of vorpal weaponry. Understandably. The feat nets you massive benefits, but also imposes massive Achilles’ heels that you otherwise wouldn’t have. While not suitable for every game, as a person, I really like it. (Though the Strength-based movement is replaced in my version of the feat.)
Frumious Quills of the Bandersnatch builds on this feat, which lets you accept Burn to increase damage output with[fire] or[air] kinetic blasts, and piercing blasts have quills stuck in targets on a failed save, which also accounts for degrees of failure. These quills sicken the targets and removing them is hazardous. Ridiculous: tripled damage on critical hits. A) This is not how Pathfinder handles critical hits. B) You can already do brutal amounts of damage with crits. The feat also allows for kineticist/rage/Bloodrage comboing. No, this one I’d definitely not allow. Not that it matters. Why? You can’t ever take it. The prerequisites list chaotic alignment, while the prerequisite Jabberwock feat is lawful only…so unless you rule that you can retain the former through an alignment change, this will never be available. Horrid Shrieks of the JubJub Bird has a similar issue and nets you reflexive energy resistance. This interacts with Frumious Quills, but…well. Yeah.
Cloak of Coiling Thorns requires being a Phytokineticist of 10th level or higher lets you leave walls of thorns behind you when withdrawing or running, and dimension door via Burn. (Not properly italicized.) Dark Chains Between the Trees builds on Shade of the Woodlands and nets you Unforged Arrow of the Wild as a Faith trait, rather than as a feat. This makes all kinetic blasts and wild talents and SPs gain the shadow descriptor, and blasts can be readied to counter [light] spells and effects. All abilities granted by this, and all wild talents, become divine as well, which makes them more susceptible to effects that resist it. Gaze of the Wilderness is a druid-exclusive that nets you an expanded spell list, and it lets you sacrifice living creatures to make spellcasting less costly. Cool and flavorful one. Shapeless and Primal Terror builds on Shade of the Woodlands and nets you thought/memory-related spells added to your druid spell list. Additionally, you get to expend wild shape uses to get benefits for 1 hour per druid level. There is an aura that causes 1d4 Wisdom damage and paralyze targets for 1 round. (Hex caveat, thankfully). Still, this is VERY nasty and should probably be limited use…or at least have a briefer duration. As always on, it’s super strong. Predator’s Cry (header, oddly, formatted differently than the previous use) nets you a scream that nets you a 60 ft-radius save or be panicked for 2d4 rounds effect. Finally, you get 100 ft telepathy at well while in dim light or darkness. None of these correctly specify activation actions.
The Cursed Cycle, Unending, has an epic idea: When you die, you leave with a nasty curse, and at higher levels, the curse becomes more potent. (Nitpick: Spell-reference not italicized once.) I love this persistent, nasty final sendoff – and yes, the curse can leap! True Child of the Forest makes you count as though you had the nature mystery and the revelation for the purpose or Extra Revelation (OUCH), get a couple of spells added to the spell list, but also need to consume a lot of drink to avoid thirst…even if you become undead. True Love’s Kiss is cool: You get to choose a true love: By kissing this character, and may kiss the true love to duplicate mythic break enchantment or mythic dispel magic, using character level = CL. Unforged Arrow of the Wild requires being a phytokineticist and a nets you a revelation from the nature mystery, and provides options to select certain feats via Dampened Versatility. You can also avoid Burn, instead gaining penalties to skills (Legendary Kineticist-style) and lose languages when doing so. Additionally, this sickens and staggers you while in urban environments – you become a creature of the wild. The feat does prohibit you from using metal armor. Walker Behind the Thorns nets you a withdraw/dimension door retreat that blends with leaving walls of thorns.
Finally, there would be the unicorn charger PrC, which requires BAB +6 or higher, Mounted Combat and 3 skills at 5 ranks. Only good characters that speak Sylvan may take it, and the character needs a bond that grants a horse or pony or similar companion. Of course, the character also needs contact with a unicorn. The PrC nets 172 Fort-progression and good BAB-progression, d10 HD and 2 + Int skills per level, and proficiency with lances and shields (excluding tower shields). 2nd level nets spells drawn from the paladin spell list. These can be cast spontaneously and range up to 4th level, capping at 2 at 1st and 2nd level, 1 at 3rd and 4th spell level. Charisma is governing attribute for spellcasting. The PrC gets its own spells known list, and an aura of good as well as the pala’s detect evil ability. The character gets a unicorn mount that gets +2 to one mental ability score of your choice at 3rd level and every 3 thereafter. Wild empathy is twice as effective with good magical beasts, and 2nd level nets poison resistance that improves at 5th and 8th level, with 10th level providing poison immunity. This level also nets woodland stride. 3rd level nets smite evil, save that it applies instead to plants, evil fey and similarly-themed adversaries, and the second ability gained at that level, lets the unicorn heal targets or rider via its horn a limited number of times per day, which is treated akin to lay on hands. 4th level provides an AC-penalty-less charge at +4 instead of the default bonus. 4th level nets Aura of courage, 8th aura of resolve.
5th level nets sanctuary (not italicized) versus non-evil animals, fey, etc., as well as a bonus to Diplomacy with such beings, based on class level. 6th level nets the option of healing diseases and poisons with the horn. 7th level provides dimension door 1/day, +1/day at 7th level. At this level, the pure heart is also gained, which makes the mount’s weaponry considered to be good, and certain spells may be cast spontaneously or by expending healing horn uses. 9th level provides a further upgrade for the horn, and 10th level nets a super charge attack with doubled threat range. Interaction with palas and ex-unicorn charges are covered.
Editing and formatting are good on both a formal and rules-language level. While I noticed a few formatting and editing glitches, some of which impact rules-integrity, the pdf still is, as a whole and considering the complexity, rather precise. Layout adheres to Legendary Games’ two-column full-color standard of the Kingmaker plug-ins. The pdf sports some rather nice full-color artworks and comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.
Jason Nelson, Julian Neale, Clinton J. Boomer and N. Jolly provide a collection of cool archetypes with a definite frontier and fey vibe. I enjoyed the archetypes herein in that even the shorter ones offer a sense of a distinct identity. That being said, there are a couple of options that sport some hiccups in the details and there are a few instances where I definitely would draw the ban hammer or nerf bat – particularly the feats require that a GM really knows what they’re doing before allowing them in the game. The jabberwocky-sequence in particular, or the ones that just grant you revelation-access, are imho overkill. As a whole, this doesn’t sink the product, but it does cancel out a couple of the more inspired components, leveling out at being a good, if not perfect supplement. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.
You can get this collection of class options here on OBS!