Path of the Wilds (priority review)

Path of the Wilds

This book clocks in at 105 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 3 pages of index and artist credits (nice!), 1 page back cover, leaving us with 96 pages of content, so let’s take a look!


This review was moved up in my reviewing queue due to me receiving a print copy of the book, and it was also requested by my supporters. The review is based on the 2nd printing-version, with the 1st-edition errata included, as I want to reward authors that care and improve their offerings and revise the actual books, instead of slapping an errata file in an obscure corner of the world wide web or in an extra file. An important note right away: This book really embraces PFRPG’s first edition, including the later hardcovers: This book does support material from Occult Adventures, Ultimate Intrigue, Ultimate Wilderness, etc.


Okay, so after a brief introduction, we dive into the 3 new base classes presented herein, the first being the elementer, who receives d8 HD, 4 + Int skills per level, ¾ BAB-progression, good Ref- and Will-saves and a custom proficiency list that includes simple weapons, glaive, starknife, greatswords, longbows and more; regarding armor, we have proficiency with light armor and shields (minus tower shields); as an arcane spellcaster who receives spells of up to 6th level, using Intelligence as a governing ability score and a spellbook; we have a prepared caster, with the spellbooks for preparation codified as those of the magus and wizard. Of course, light armor incurs no arcane spell failure. Regarding spells, the class uses, no surprise there, an elemental focus; as such, it properly defines elemental spells, which are properly classified in the custom spell-list of the class and codified in the class. 3rd level nets +1 damage per die rolled with elemental spells and spell twists; more on spell twists later.


The class uses an energy pool with a maximum equal to class level + Intelligence modifier (minimum 1), and starts the day with half that pool filled, rounded down. When the elementer casts an elemental spell of 1st level or higher, or uses a spell twist. They gain class level spells; as a standard action that does not provoke AoOs, they can sacrifice any number of prepared elemental spells, gaining half the amount of energy points of the total spell levels. These points cannot be gained while the character is in aegis form. Wait aegis form? Yeah, but we should first talk more about the spellcasting engine of this fellow, because it is surprisingly novel for a game as well-trod and broad as PFRPG.


You see, if you take a look at the spell lists, you’ll notice that, in spite of the class only getting spellcasting of up to 6th spell level, the spell list reaches 9th level. So how can that be? A nerf gone wrong? Nope. 6th level nets the fusion spell-like ability, which allows the elementer to chosoe a single element from the classic 4 western elements, with an additional element unlocked at 19th, 14th and 18th level. When preparing spells, spell slots may be fused to prepare a spell from that elemental category. The slots need to be combined, and require a higher value; to prepare a 2nd level spell using lower level spell slots requires 3 spell levels; an 8th level spell would cost a massive 15 spell levels; however, the ability only allows for the fusion of spells that the elementer can prepare.

Metamagic may not be applied, and the chosen element has a somewhat different array of rules: The curious reader will have noticed that the above caveat actually would prevent fusing spells of above 6th level, but the chosen elements adheres to different rules: The elementer can fuse spells of up half their class level, rounded down, of all the elements chosen


The spellcasting engine also offers quite a few unique offerings for the spellcasting engine, represented by an array of so-called spell twists, starting with 2 spell twists gained at 2nd level, and an additional one gained every three levels thereafter; these spell twists have associated elemental categories, and to use them, the elementer has to sacrifice a prepared spell of the associated element of 1st level or higher; spell twists with the “All” category are exempt from this restriction, but are the exception from the rule. A spell twist is a spell-like ability and used as a standard action, with a save DC of 10 + sacrificed spell slot’s level + intelligence modifier; the spell twists can be boosted, so if a spell level of a higher level than 1st is used, the effect tends to be better beyond the DC-increase implied by the formula: Increased damage, additional targets, etc. The spell twist array is btw. interesting: For water, we have, for example, the expected cold damage, but with the Drown spell twist also nonlethal damage + change of staggering on a failed save. Suffice to say, the ability is phrased in a precise manner and accounts for unbreathing or water-breathing targets. And yes, spells prepared in higher spell slots are accounted for. Now, this spontaneous spell-conversion into (usually) blasting/minor crowd control effects is per se neato, but actually comes with yet another interesting effect, namely that spell twists also grant energy pool points.


Let’s talk about the defenses of the class for a bit; 2nd level nets evasion, 12th level improved evasion, and 4th level nets a barrier consisting of an energy resistance pool that begins with a value of 10 and increases by another 10 every 3 levels thereafter, capping at 60; these may be freely assigned to the classic 4 energy damage types associated with the elements (acid, cold, electricity, fire) whenever the character prepares their spells. This class feature becomes more interesting at 9th level, where, whenever the elementer manages to negate energy damage (taking 0 damage due to resistance/immunity, or evasion), every 20 points of damage negated lets them regain 1 energy point. This *does* work while in aegis form, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves. 15th level increases the barrier’s effectiveness, granting immunity to damage types if at least 30 points are assigned in the barrier.


We already mentioned aegis. Yeah, elementers begin play with the ability to wrap themselves in elemental power as a swift action. Assuming aegis form costs one energy point, and the elementer gets an untyped (not a fan…why not codify these bonuses properly?) bonus on attack rolls, AC and CMD, and the elementer’s weapons count as magic for the purpose of overcoming DR; the bonuses increase at 5th level and every 4 levels thereafter, capping at +6 at 17th level. In aegis form, the elementer cannot cast spells, use spell trigger or spell completion items, or gain points in the energy pool. Aegis can be ended as a free action and ends when energy points drop to 0; aegis can only be entered at the end of the character’s next turn, which is a clever cycling block. Smart design right there.

But there is another rather important unique ability, namely the supernatural ability Affinity, which is gained at 1st level; when the elementer prepares spells, they choose a single lesser affinity power, which can be accessed in aegis form only; at 6th, 11th and 16th level let the elementer choose a moderate, greater and master affinity power. These, however, are NOT simply available in aegis form; instead, moderate affinity power requires spending 2 energy points when entering aegis form AND that the character keeps spending these 2 points per round. Greater powers cost 4, and master powers require a cost of 6 points of consistent and initiation costs; and here the cycle-caveat comes into place, because the elementer MUST pay the costs or end the aegis. So, if you start a 4-point aegis to access greater affinity powers and below, you need to keep paying that, or end aegis and re-enter it at a lower cost, but minus access to the greater affinity power. As usually, affinity powers are categorized in the 4 classic elements, with save DCs, if applicable, at DC 10 + ½ class level + Intelligence modifier. At 7th level, the elementer can, as a free action exchange affinity powers for a new array; usable 1/day, +1/day at 13th and 19th, but this exchange may only be used once per round, regardless of daily uses.


The lesser affinity powers generally grant scaling damage increases that stack with the associated elemental weapon special abilities; for example, the bonus fire damage added to your weapon with the searing heat lesser affinity power stack with flaming. The moderate powers tend to focus on movement and defense and include, for example, fly speed (which makes sense at the level it unlocks), miss chance versus ranged weapons, etc.; the greater affinity powers include defensive fire, temporary hit point armors, etc.; master affinity powers are auras and include noise-drowning winds, damaging churning ground etc. There is something I VERY much appreciate regarding these affinity powers: They reward focusing on elements, for every single affinity power has synergy effects that increase the potency of the powers when you choose to focus on a selection from one element. For example, the aforementioned temporary hit point armor granted by a moderate water affinity power, the temporary hit points start replenishing, and the replenishing hit points stack with themselves. The capstone lets half their elemental damage bypass resistances and immunities, excluding the elementer’s own, and elemental spells and spell twists that deal physical damage ignore all DR except DR/-.


The elementer, as a whole, is a class that thematically shouldn’t interest me; it’s a powerful elemental knight-type character who is really potent regarding nova-ing. HOWEVER, when you’re playing in a game where the GM can properly discourage nova-casting (not that hard, imo), it is one grand experience; the switch of modes between spell twists and aegis rewards oscillating roles; the class chassis makes sure that you still matter if you choose to nova, but don’t actually WANT to nova, which is SMART; the degree of spellcasting flexibility and tweak of the classic system generate a surprisingly rewarding playstyle that works better than it looks on paper. This is a genuinely good elemental class; I wouldn’t recommend it for ultra-gritty games, but I do very much enjoy it. The design is certainly smooth, elegant, and as a whole, very well-considered. 


The second class would be the invokers, who gain d10 HD, 4 + Int skills per level, proficiency with simple and martial weapons, light and medium armor and shields (excluding tower shields), full BAB-progression, good Fort- and Ref-saves.  3rd level and every 6 levels thereafter net a bonus combat feat.

The class gets a spirit companion, who gains d6 HD, starting with 2 HD and increasing that up to 15 HD at 20th level; the spirit companion’s BAB adheres to a 3/4-progression, mirroring HD; good saves (Reflex and Will saves) scale up marginally better than for the phantom, kicking off at +3, and capping at +10; the bad save (Fort) cap at +5; the companion starts off at 12 skill ranks and 1 feat, increasing that up to 98 ranks and 8 feats; natural armor bonus +1 is gained at 2nd level, and scales up to +12; also at 2nd level, the companion gains a +1 bonus to Dexterity and Wisdom, scaling up to +8; AT 4th, 9th, 14th and 20th level, we have an ability score increase of +1. The spirit companion has low-light vision and gains spontaneous spellcasting governed by Wisdom of up to 4th spell level, using the custom invoker spell-list, with limited spells known. 5th level provides a spell slot that can be chosen from the invoker’s currently invoked spirits, even if the spell is not known to the companion. They can be metamagically enhanced. 7th level nets devotion, so the usual +4 morale bonus vs. enchantment spells and effects.

The spirit also starts play with the spell-like ability spirit blast, which it, as a standard action, can fire a close range ranged touch attack, and deals 1d6 damage per 2 HD of the spirit (so 1d6 at first level, since it starts off with 2 HD), and adds Wisdom modifier; the blast can’t be Vital Strike’d, but does count as a weapon for the purposes of feats; SR applies. Now, there is more to the spirit companion than this framework, but the rules for this are outsourced, since they apply to spirits in general; as a minor point of criticism, I think noting the respective unlocks of these global spirit rules in the spirit companion table as well would have been a rather helpful/convenient decision.


The spirit companion is, base-type-wise, a fey, and, as hinted at before, it, like all other spirits, are defined by the dominion and oath; dominions would be land, beasts, sea, etc., while oaths describe the role of the spirit companion in relation to that dominion. While we get a decent array of dominions, only three oaths are provided: Acolyte (spellcasting), guardian (tougher) and harbinger (more damage). Oaths grant minor power increases at 4th, 10th and 16th level, and the oath also influences the invoker’s 7th level ability, Avatar (Su), which is a merge of invoker and companion initiated as a full-round action. In this form, the invoker can cannibalize spell slots of the companion for spirit energy pool points, and also gains abilities based on the oath and dominion chosen. This form lasts for Charisma modifier minutes, until ended (swift action), or slain; it can be used 1/day, +1/day at 13th and 19th level. Which brings me to the bonuses of the guardian and harbinger, which irked me, to be frank. Why? The bonuses grant as spirit abilities and avatars benefits are…bingo.


Untyped bonuses all around. This is bothersome, considering that PFRPG ALREADY has ridiculous bonus-stacking going on, and untyped bonuses…well, personally, I’d need to type those all before allowing the class in my game. YMMV, but yeah. These should be typed. The dominions of the companion determine the damage type of the spirit blast, provide a 1st and 7th level ability, with additional effects for the avatar form and unlocked 13th and 19th level abilities. Land, for example, nets bludgeoning blasts, burrow speed 20 ft at first level for the companion, 7th level tremorsense 20 ft, and the avatar upgrades net burrow speed, tremorsense (both scaling) and acid resistance improving to immunity.


Okay, so the companion is a minor caster, pretty fragile, and can blast; now, what does the invoker themselves bring beyond the chassis? As noted before, we have a pool of spirit energy points, which is btw. ½ class level + Charisma modifier. The pool refreshes at the start of the day after 8 hours of rest. At first level, the invoker selects two spirits to bond with, and gains an additional one at 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter. One of the spirits chosen at first level must match the companion’s oath and dominion. These spirits grant spirit powers, and said powers are usually a standard action to activate and have a save DC of 10 + ½ class level + Charisma modifier; the chosen spirit’s spells are added to the invoker list, but do NOT automatically become known for the spirit companion.


The spirits are somewhat akin to Medium spirits, just in more flavorful: Alpha Protects the Weary Pack would be a guardian of beasts, who grants the spirit power Alpha’s Challenge (Su): When you hit a foe with a weapon attack, you can spend 1 spirit energy point as a free action for a challenge; the challenged target takes a -2 penalty to attack rolls against anyone except you; this increases by -2 at 5th, 11th and 17th level and lasts for Charisma modifier rounds (minimum 1) and may only be maintained versus one target; the spell array ranged from compel hostility to aspect of the wolf and mage’s faithful hound. Like medium spirits, we have lesser, intermediate, greater and grand abilities, dubbed invocations. Invocation saves, if any, are DC 10 + ½ class level + Charisma modifier. Lesser invocations are available starting at 2nd level, with 5th unlocking intermediate, 11th level unlocking greater, and 17th level unlocking grand invocations. To return to our spirit, we have Diehard and a lower to-die threshold as the lesser one; scaling bonuses when badly hurt (properly typed-YEAH!) as the intermediate one; more concurrent uses of alpha’s challenge and an immediate action interception movement when allies are attacked that is powered by spirit points (cool!), and the grand one nets fast healing 5, and halved damage when at 0 hp or less, including no staggering and immunity to harmful mind-affecting effects. See what I mean with more flavorful? Yeah, these spirits are cool.


5th level allows for the invocation of two spirits at once, with the secondary spirit’s invocation powers unlocking at 5th, 8th, 14th and 20th level, respectively. At 6th level, the invoker can invoke spirits multiple times per day, at the cost of 1 spirit energy per invoked spirit in a 1-hour ceremony. 12th level reduces this time-frame to 10 minutes, or at the cost of 2 spirit energy points per spirit as a swift action.


4th level nets mystic bond, a free action ability that lets the invoker sacrifice hit points to negate damage that would reduce the companion below 0 hp; tight design avoiding exploits here; additionally, the companion can cast spells with target “You”, “touch” etc. at range on the invoker as a full-round action, unless the spell has a longer casting time.  If the companion is slain, 10th level lets the invoker expend all spirit energy points to raise dead (resurrection at 16th level) the companion. Minor nitpick: Should have a minimum 1 caveat. 16th level nets telepathic communication with the companion within the companion’s link. 20th level unlocks ALL spirit powers, but spirits currently not selected cost twice as much spirit energy. The capstone also further enhances quick spirit switching and no longer has a cooldown for it.


I really like this class; a melee-class with mode gameplay and a fragile, minor caster companion makes for a compelling class; Multiple Ability Score Dependency does a pretty solid job of keeping the fellow in check, and the flavor is genuinely inspiring. The power between options adheres to a pretty solid parity as well. All good? No, there is one thing I have to complain about: bonus types. While a few abilities feature proper bonus types, there are also a couple that lack types, even when they clearly should have types. That being said, if you’re willing of typing them, you’ll have one damn cool class here. Seriously, impressive beast.


The third class herein would be an attempt at a melee defensive character, with aura-emanation-buffs; difficult to execute, so how does the fellow perform? The class gains d10 HD, 4 + Int skills per level, proficiency with simple and martial weapons, light and medium armors, shields (except tower shields), full BAB-progression, good Fort- and Will-saves, and a bonus combat feat at 2nd level and every 4 levels thereafter. The warden adds their Wisdom modifier instead of Dexterity modifier to AC and CMD, though conditions that cause them to lose Dexterity modifier still apply. Armor Maximum Dexterity Bonus still applies, but the bonus to AC cannot exceed warden class level. 1st level nets ½ class level bonus to Knowledge (dungeoneering, geography, nature), Handle Animal and Survival and allows for untrained skill use. 3rd level nets immunity to magical and natural diseases, and 7th level to poisons; 4th level adds Wisdom modifier in addition to Dexterity to initiative and may always act in a surprise round. At 19th level, the warden is treated as always having rolled a 20 on initiative and is never surprised. 12th level nets stalwart (essentially evasion for Fort- and Will-saves), and at 16th level, animals, plants and vermin of Intelligence 2 or less never attack the warden; those with a higher Intelligence can make a Will save to attack, and if the warden or allies initiate hostilities, the target becomes immune for 24 hours.


While not wearing heavy armor, the warden gets the verdant bonus, which starts at +1, increases by +1 at 4th level and ever 4 class levels after that, and the bonus applies to other class features as well. Speaking of which, let’s talk about perhaps the most defining class feature of the class, namely the eponymous wards, which are btw. a supernatural ability. Creating a ward is a swift action and it generates a spherical emanation in a 10 ft.-radius, but the warden has control over the radius in 5 ft.-steps to the maximum; range is close and allies (including warden) in the ward gain the effects of endure elements, with allies gaining an insight bonus to AC equal to the aforementioned verdant bonus. The warden does not gain this additional verdant bonus a second time, though, not even from other wardens (good catch exemplifying design with foresight!); wards last indefinitely and can be dismissed as a swift action, and only one ward may be in effect as a given time. 9th level increases the radius to 15 ft., and the range to medium, and he can now manifest two concurrent wards; at 15th level, ward radius increases to 20 ft., range becomes long, and 3 wards can be manifested at once. At 13th level, the warden can use a move action to teleport up to twice his movement to an open space in a ward. The capstone nets a true immortality apotheosis: Outsider, and auto-resurrection after 24 hours within 20 miles of the place the warden dies.


2nd level nets the supernatural remedy ability: As a standard action (swift if targeting self), the warden can grant fast healing equal to ½ class level, and it usually can be employed to adjacent targets, but if the target is within a ward, range is close instead; usable ½ class level + Wisdom modifier times per day. 2nd level and every 3 levels thereafter net a so-called secret; if applicable, saves are Dc 10 + ½ class level + Wisdom modifier. These include curing sickened with remedy (at 8th level also nauseated), commune with nature at will (min 14th level), using 2 remedy uses to cast restoration sans material component as a standard action (minimum 11th level), Cultivate Magic Plants as a bonus feat, woodland stride, seeing through undergrowth, etc.


At 3rd level, the warden chooses facets, which can once per day be prepared, and he begins with 2 facets prepared and increases that by 1 facet every other level, capping at 9 facets prepared at 17th level. If applicable, saving throws are DC 10 + ½ class level + Wisdom modifier. Facets have three levels: lesser, greater and grand; greater facets are unlocked at 9th level, greater ones at 15th level. In order to prepare a grand facet, the greater and lesser facets must be prepared; in order to prepare a greater facet, the lesser facet must be prepared. Essentially, getting access to the more powerful aspects of a facet decreases the flexibility. Good call. Whenever the warden creates a ward, they can apply a single facet; effects of facets are cumulative with their lower iteration. What do they do? Dawn’s Light creates light (a rare case of italics missing) and affects targets in the ward with faerie fire; the greater version adds invisibility purge, dazzles those outside the ward (no save), and grand can temporary blind targets and counts as actual daylight. Interaction with darkness etc. also improve. Bones of the earth nets acid resistance based on 5 times verdant bonus; at greater facet power, we get a CMB boost; allies can’t be moved except by mind-affecting and teleportation, and can’t be knocked prone, and grand also nets verdant bonus DR/adamantine. All facets make sense, and as a whole, their power-levels are on par. Another fun-to-play class, and one that absolutely works in any game, from more potent to grittier ones.


The three new classes all come with favored race options that cover the core classes, and the plane-touched ones. These are okay, if not spectacular. The book also features a series of archetypes: 3 for the elementer, 3 for the invoker, 3 for the warden. The book also features material for barbarian, druid, hunter, kineticist , medium, paladin, ranger, shifter, and sorcerer.

In brevity: The animist barbarian replaces rage with essentially a ward-lite ability that lets them summon totems that provide benefits to themselves and allies, and scale. They also feature a caveat that includes synergy with traditional rage-basic tricks. Totem rage powers also can be granted by these totems, which can be rather brutal for a well-composed party (or not as efficient for less well-composed ones). Instead of trap sense and 4th level’s rage powers, we have a somewhat bloodline-y spell-like abilities, and at higher levels, totems can act as spiritual weapons. Interesting.

The geomancer druid replaces nature sense with Earth Magic and focuses on elemental planes, with favored terrain types codified according to that elemental focus, and in the proper terrain, the druid can lose prepared spells in favor of favored terrain related domain spells.

Elementers can choose to become aegis knights, who lose fusion and the (improved) evasion in favor of faster wards and energy points conversion as well as fortification. Essentially a tweak that focuses more on aegis than spells. Stormcallers specialize in air and water, and are essentially a storm-themed variant with spell conversion instead of 2nd level’s spell twists and modified barriers. Volcanists follow a similar design paradigm, but focus on earth and fire instead, though, surprisingly, it’s not just a template swap, instead focusing different on distinct abilities.


Hunters can opt for the planar hunter archetype, replacing animal focus with a planar focus that comes with a pretty massive list that covers aligned plane effects as well as the inner planes, shadow plane, astral, ethereal, etc. Precise companion is exchanged with bonus spells, and otherwise we have planar themes.


Invokers can choose to become speakers of the wild. This archetype delays the invoke ability to 5th level, instead gaining bardic performances first, and the speaker’s companion also benefits from the bardic focus. Invocation abilities are also delayed. Spiritbound invokers get an increased array of skills per level and lose the companion. They are Charisma-focused and use medium spells, and can enter avatar form quicker and without merging, obviously. Wanderers don’t need to have one of their first spirits match their companion; their invocation is fleeting, but they can briefly invoke two spirits at once; interesting engine-tweak.


Kineticists receive 1.5 pages worth of wild talents, which include an arboreal hammer-duplicating form infusion, the utility option to clear terrain, etc. I particularly considered the option to lace targets with spores that grant temporary hit points to those that attack the target. Interesting.


The medium gains a complete array of alternate spirits, so-called wild spirits; the trickster is, for example, replaced with the beguiler, who gets, among other things, a scaling untyped damage attack, which usually would result in my usual complaint, but the codified nature of a mind-affecting effect does make this more palatable. The spirit, is a whole, is MUCH more interesting than the trickster; instead of the marshal, we get a companion/hunter-themed spirit…you get the idea. As a whole, I enjoy the spirits presented here.  The primal vessel archetype exclusively uses these spirits and replaces the haunt angle and divination themes with ones that are more nature-themed.


Paladins can elect to become purifiers, who can smite anything, but at the cost of the damage being fire; as a whole, this one is a fire-themed paladin. The divine guard ranger gets a defensive variant of favored enemy and self-only warden remedy and access to secrets. The shifter class gets the mystic shifter archetype, who loses wild empathy and the chimeric aspect array in favor of spellcasting, and a druid’s wildshape. Engine tweak. Speaking of which, the elemental savant sorcerer loses bloodline spells and the 3rd-level bloodline power in favor of the option of switching between elemental phases. Interesting.

The warden gets the forest ascetic (unarmed, monk-y warden); primal guardians can’t place wards at a distance and gets a modified ability, and it includes a challenge ability; the archetype is an interesting engine-tweak that plays in a different manner. The verdant soul replaces the ward, verdant bonus and facets ability array with wood-themed kineticist abilities.


Beyond these options, the book includes a significant feat and spell array; the feat table includes the expected options that enhance class features; Aegis Strike, for example, eliminates the action cost of Arcane Strike (or Energy Strike, if you have it) while in aegis, and the Arcane Strike’s benefits are spell twist relevant. There is a charge option for the Vital Strike feat chain. It is also important to note that the book codifies a series of spells as animal or plant spells with the respective descriptors, and the feat array also taps into that. The spell section includes plant-based battle spells, spells that grant tremorsense and elemental spells are, unsurprisingly a focus. There are also some intriguing ones that stood out to me: One lets you touch a potion or poison, transforming it into a wasp that attempts to deliver the liquid. A utility-spell that protects from weather effects is also smart; the pdf includes a series of high-level polymorph-self buffs and a prism-series that uses all four core energy types/descriptors. Important to note here: These spells are cognizant of the benefits of their flexibility and are balanced as such.


The final chapter of the book features an assortment of various magic items, with new armor and weapon special abilities and several special weapons included; these include an armor property that enhances the aegis class feature, an armor that can act as a plant source and root you, and waterproof armor that lessens weather-severity. It should be noted that there are some really nifty artworks for the items, and there are some serious gems here: The weapon property that lets you cycle through flaming, corrosive, cold and shock is genuinely awesome. (Yes, there also is one option for the burst variant. Weapons that help you mark quarries or studied targets. Enchanted lashes, cycling starknives…some seriously cool stuff here. The kineticist’s bangle has a designated element and grants the associated element as an expanded element for the purpose of composite blast unlocks; while it’s not an inexpensive item at 11K gold, it warrants close scrutiny for games using expanded kineticist content. A really cool magical compass is also included, and I was very pleasantly surprised to see the trophy belt, which lets you collect trophies to gain a variety of creature abilities from the trophies, essentially a blue magic lite array that might be a bit inexpensive, but has the cost of needing to get the trophy, so I’m relatively cool with it.



Editing and formatting are very good on both a formal and rules-language level; there are precious few very minor formal hiccups, and on a rules-language level only the inconsistent bonus typing struck me as an overall potentially problematic issue, though that *may* have been intentional. Layout adheres to Ascension Games’ two-column standard and sports a significant amount of text per page. The book features a lot of original full-color artworks in the style seen on the cover, and the pdf-version comes with both a mobile-friendly version and one that is optimized for HD. The print copy is a solid softcover and sports the name on the spine.


Chris Moore, with additional content by Dolant Smart and Jake Zemke delivers in this book. In SPADES. Path of the Wilds is a love letter to PFRPG at the system’s best, with 3 base classes that offer absolutely fun and novel playing experiences and a design that is clear, smooth, and speaks of seriously impressive skill, even with very complex options. Nothing herein looks random, everything shows clear consciousness of the system’s pitfalls, and as a whole, the book managed to attain a level of quality that is seriously compelling.


Are there some hiccups? Yes, but as a whole, it is ridiculous how precise the tiny team managed to realize this tome. In fact, I can list some Paizo books that sort more issues than this one. So yeah, quality-wise, this is definitely top-tier, and the asking price is VERY low for both pdf and print, and I’d seriously recommend getting print. Regarding power-levels, this book works properly with default-PFRPG-power-levels; people preferring high-powered gameplay can use the material, and even if you gravitate to gritty gaming, you can make use of the book with some cursory analysis and minor tweaks here and there.


To contextualize this: This may well be better than even Path of Shadows and Path of Iron.

The classes herein rock and play very well. There are some rules-hole closures, and plenty of stuff to love. Seriously. The bang for buck ratio is excellent, and there are precious few and minor glitches.

This is an excellent example of top tier PF1 content. 5 stars, seal of approval, “Best of”-tag. If you like PF1, get this.


You can get this outstanding book here!


Missed the (mostly) fantastic Path of Shadows, containing one of the best shadow-themed classes for any d20-iteration? You can find it here.


Path of Iron can be found here!


All three books have been collected in one massive tome as well; Paths of Magic. And yes, review forthcoming soon (TM). If you don’t want to wait, you can find it here!


If you considered this review to be useful, please consider leaving a tip via paypal, or joining my patreon here. Thank you!

Endzeitgeist out.





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1 Response

  1. October 1, 2021

    […] Graf reviewed Path of the Wilds and the 5e Vathak Adventures’ Brides of Black […]

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