Sunday, May 03, 2015

Pathfinder Unchained: Review

I've always thought Pathfinder  Unchained sounded like an interesting concept. A bunch of optional rules changes or modifications sometimes adding complexity, sometimes simplicity but often moving further away from the 3.5 system.

The first section deals with alternate version of a few character classes. The barbarian has the Rage feature changed a bit. instead of it changing your characters stats during Rage, you just get a bunch of bonuses. They've also tweaked some rage powers (now unchained!). Overall I don't see a big difference. I still prefer the original but those people bad at math or don't manage their characters on a spreadsheet might like the simpler version. Some of the really bad Rage powers are a little better unchained and some of the really good rage powers are a little worse unchained.

The Monk is quite controversial. They've cleaned up the class a bit so that some of its abilities work better together but over all the new version is probably still worse than the brawler at fighting and lost some of its defensive strength which was the hallmark on the original monk. A minor improvement but overall still not something that interests me.

The Unchained Rogue is definitely improved. Better at skills. Better at fighting. Better overall. Combat-wise they are still tied to the unfortunate sneak attack mechanic but that shouldn't stop hardcore rogue lovers. The first (and only) Unchained Class that I could see myself using.

The Unchained Summoner is grossly misnamed. It should be the Chained Summoner. The poor summoner got nerfed just about every way you can think of. Worse spells, worse Eidolon. About the only advantage here is that DMs that hate the summoner and ban it might allow this defanged and impotent version.

The next section deals with Skills and Options. There are lots of possibilities here but my favorite is  Background skills. There are lots of kills that anyone hardly uses because they have no mechanical benefit and unless you get a ton of skills its hard to bring yourself to take them. With this subsystem everyone gets two background skills per level. This way the noble PCs could take Knowledge Nobility, the ex-farmer takes Profession: Farmer, That sort of thing. It clearly defines which skills count as background and the only one that provides any sort of mechanical benefit is Perform and that only applies to Bards.

Skill unlocks are kinda cool but seem like a lot of extra things to keep track of. They figure into one of the Unchained Rogues new abilities but anyone can use them (although not as well or easily).

The variant multiclassing is rather neat. For the price of your feats at 3, 7, 11, 15 and 19 you get a secondary class that advances at your character level but you only get certain class features. For example if bard was your secondary class you d get Bardic Knowledge at level 3, Bardic performance at level 7 (at -4 level getting Inspire Courage and Inspire Competence), Versatile Performance at level 11 in one perform skill (allows for a free retrain). At level 15 gets Lore Master as a 5th level bard. At level 19 gets Dirge of Doom and Inspire Greatness. Just the Core classes, the Advanced players guide classes and the Magus and Gunslinger are listed as options. No Hybrid classes.

I'll post a second part later.

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