Hello, and welcome to a special review of Pathfinder Second Edition. With most of the Know Direction team at Gen Con 2019, gluttonously consuming second edition in all its glory, most of our blogs are on hiatus. I, Randal, writer of Groundbreaking and Terraforming, am here to fill that void with a chapter by chapter review of the new core rulebook. This review is intended to simply be my take on the material as I read it, as first thoughts and impressions, and not a hard comparison of changes from first edition.
Chapter 3 – Classes (part 1)
This chapter starts with an overview of classes that includes a handful of related items that you may want to familiarize yourself with in other places of the book (with page numbers). It then explains the layout of the class presentation, including descriptions of the sections and reminders of the items that get repeated in the class to avoid extra page flipping (such as level up information that includes ancestry feats; ancestry feats and their acquisition was explained already in their chapter). This is two pages I think well spent for new players as well as experienced players that might need a reminder that 2e is different than 1e. Plus, they included the class symbols/icons again with descriptions of each class. In case you missed me saying it, I really dig them. They aren’t perfect nor is it 100% clear which is which (champion/fighter could go either way and sorcerer could make you think wizard until you see the wizard symbol) but I just really like them … call me a fanboy.
The layout for classes is much like the layout for ancestries. Great use of sections to get a feel for what the class is and how it should feel while making it easy to see the core elements. I still dislike the inclusion of every single thing in the advancement table (the ancestry feats, general feats, skill feats/increases, ability boosts are all included in each class’ advancement table). I completely understand that it serves as a guide for new players and is meant to avoid needless flipping back and forth for new and veteran players alike, but over 12 core classes, that is a couple of pages that could either have gone to new material or simply been removed to make the book lighter.
While on the topic of repeating information, I wanna rehash the duplication of feats (I mentioned it in Ancestries in the context of weapon familiarity). The feat Reach Spell is written up for each of the spell casting classes, it exists 5 times in this book. There are others, but I think this is the most duplicated feat among the class feats (not going to bother getting into the multiclass archetype feats for spellcasters). Again, I get it … keeping the feats in the context of their class (especially since each version has a trait specific to that class) makes it easier to find and remember when including in your build. But still, there are pages of duplicated text from feats like this that could have gone towards other feats or a lighter book.
Moving on, I am starting to appreciate the sidebars in the classes. From the list of feats by alpha (they are printed long form by level), to the key terms specific to the class (though these are also repeated in for each class that uses them and again in the back of the book), to the sample builds. For a veteran, I like them as they help break up the monotony of pages of crunch while helping me to avoid page flipping, and I know they are also much more useful to new players, which is something I am glad exists. I suspect that is part of the learning curve, and once I grok the rules I won’t care other than they are wasted space that could have been more rules or a lighter book (I tried to move on).
I don’t recall playing an alchemist in 1st edition, and I didn’t play one in the playtest, but I knew enough of the rules for both to adjudicate the basics as a GM. I like how this alchemist turned out, for the most part. The research fields (Bomber, Chirurgeon, and Mutagenist) are a nice way of providing branches for the class that are different, but are all still alchemists. I did notice the Directional Bombs feat didn’t seem to have any way to account for larger splashes from feats and abilities that expand the radius of a splash, so I think that will end up being one of my first alchemist house rules: adding 5 feet to the cone for each added 5 feet of radius to the splash. The alchemical familiar looks like it is going to be a fun time for many. I can’t think of anything that stands out as something I would have done differently, and I am actually looking forward to playing a bomber at some point. I really want an alchemical familiar, but not for my bomber concept, so maybe I will need to build a 2nd at some point?
Tune in tomorrow for Chapter 3 – Classes (part 2)!