Treasure Vault Breakdown
Esther: Hello, and welcome to Know Direction, your number one source for Pathfinder news, reviews, and interviews. I’m Esther.
Navaar: And I’m Navaar!
Esther: And today we are gonna be talking about a book that we’re both really excited for: the new Pathfinder Treasure Vault, which is by Michael Sayer, Mark Seifter and Kendra Lee Speedling.
Navaar: Yes: the GM’s dream! And the player’s dream, too, to be honest. But you have to convince your GM to get the stuff in the game, and the GM gets to just contrive all these ideas. I love this. I, one of the first books I got for Pathfinder was actually, along with the Pathfinder 2E Core Rulebook, I also got a Pathfinder First Edition… what was it called? Ultimate Equipment. Which is basically like what this book is without it being as stylized. And yeah, I love it. I love being able to see like, the pictures of weapons, and all these different styles of weapons, and especially with Pathfinder, like, having the, the different traits that they can take on that allows you to do different things in combat, I think… oh, it’s so good. It makes you want to use different stuff.
Esther: Absolutely. I was thinking like, how to describe this book in a high-level overview, and it actually reminded me of a scene from the TV show Galavant, which I don’t know if you or any of our listeners know —
Navaar: I’ve heard of it, yeah.
Esther: Yeah. It’s like a, a fantasy, like, medieval-inspired show that is also a musical that roasts tropes and musicals and fantasy.
I love it. There’s a character, Madalena, who goes from being a peasant to being a queen. And when she and the main character Galvant are eventually reunited, he’s like, “You’re gonna come home, right? And we’ll like, resume our life together!” And she’s like, “You know, I’ve learned a lot about myself,” and she lists all these things that her new life has brought her.
And she goes, “And you know what I’ve learned? I really, really like stuff.” And [Esther and Navaar laugh] I was like, this is a book for people who really, really like stuff. There’s just a lot of cool stuff in it, and I was excited to read through all the different sections. There’s, I think, 7 or 8 sections in this book in all…
Navaar: Yeah. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. Yeah. Seven. Fantastic.
Like we said, I mean, it’s yeah. It’s, it’s just like, it’s for people who like stuff. You get not only these incredible descriptions of these different types of arms and armaments and alchemical properties and things like that, but you also get these beautiful pictures of these things as well.
I mean, the weapons are awesome. The armor is really, really cool. It’s like if you’re playing a… like, Diablo or something and it’s like, it’s like if you didn’t have it set to like, only drop things that are relevant to your character, you would just get all this amazing stuff and be like, “Oh, now I need to make a new character just to, just to put this on this. I need to make an NPC just to have them use this thing.” And Iove that.
Esther: I need to build a character around this armor, yeah.
Navaar: Yes. 100%. Yeah. I think the best way that we could do this is probably just to go through each section a little bit and talk about, a little bit about what that is, if it’s not like, super obvious.
And then I really wanna talk about like, some of our favorite items from that stuff, and what makes that thing cool. ‘Cause I think it’s, it would be impossible for us to, to go through every little thing, and I don’t wanna. I think that would be also boring, for you and for us. But I do want to just ha be able to go through it and kind of give everybody, just some of the fun stuff that, that really stood out to us.
Esther: We’ll hit some of our highlights.
Navaar: Yeah. I also wanted to say that Rob from the Know Direction Network also has done a couple blogs about Treasure Vault. So, for those of you who also like to read blogs as well as listen a podcasts, that’s another source as well from a different perspective if you’d like to check that out.
Esther: So to start things out, I thought maybe we could do a really brief overview of how the book is constructed. It’s written as the journey into the treasure vaults of the dragon — I’m going to go with the pronunciation Vah-lah-shih-nahz — and she’s this really gorgeously drawn… I think Underworld dragon. The art is phenomenal. She’s like, very dark with coal fire emanating from within through her scales and her eyes. I think she’s gorgeous. And she is the ancient curator of these treasure vaults.
And she has a plucky younger assistant who is a Kobold named — I’m going to go with Pure-purr-in. And you get these text blocks from both Valashinaz and Purepurin throughout the book. Valashinaz giving you this very draconic, poetic overview of what the items are and her philosophy on them, and Purepurin being like, “I got into a real scrape with these last week, and the boss was mad! But this is interesting for this reason.”
It’s a really fun bit of flavor, and I laughed out loud reading some of both of what they had to say. So yeah, that’s how the, the book presents itself: as a journey through these treasure vaults of this great dragon. And the treasure vaults are…
Navaar: Yeah, so we have the Armor and Armaments; Alchemy Unleashed; Momentary Magic; Trappings of Power; Secrets of Crafting; the Game Master’s Trove; and then Treasure Tables, are the last two sections there. Each one also has subsections inside of them, which is part of what makes it so lengthy.
The book itself is just over 200 pages long, which is a lot for an equipment book, considering like, Impossible Lands is around 300. But I think it’s worth it because there’s so much stuff in there that’s just amazing and beautiful.
Esther: You get just a ton of diversity with this stuff of this book.
Navaar: Yeah, absolutely. I also wanna double down on the voice of the dragon because there are some times I’m reading, I’m like, this is incredible, like this, I just wanna use this thing just because of the way it was written. So shoutout to whoever got to write, her voice, ’cause you killed it. It was great.
Esther: 100%. She’s amazing.
Navaar: Yeah. Yeah, so let’s get into some armor. So it’s a little bit of, of two different things. So each one kind of starts out with like, here’s some basic stuff that’s new that you can now use in the game and then here’s some magical stuff. And so one of the — basically armor is what it is, but I think one of the cool things that they added was some new traits.
One that really stuck out to me was Aquadynamic, because in the episode that came out for The Impossible Lands from us, we had talked about how much fun we would have playing in an underwater campaign. And this is a way that you can do that where the armor’s designed for use underwater, so you can basically — you’re not taking penalties when you’re doing Acrobatics or Athletic checks in water or similar liquids. Those will stack up against you, and you need this Aquadynamic armor trait. So I love it.
Esther: That was the one I picked too, so I’m really glad you chose it. And yeah, for those exact reasons. I just, I would have so much fun playing in an underwater campaign and utilizing that kind of armor, and I thought that was really great. They also just give a ton of new armor descriptions, both for the new — I’m going to call them more basic kinds of armor presented — as well as really specific, awesome magical armors that I’m sure we’re going to get into in a minute.
Navaar: Yeah. The one that really stuck out to me of like, the sort of basic one, was the Leaf Weave. Which is basically like, Elven armor that uses leaves from this special tree, and essentially it’s a way for you… if you’re a person who wants to wear, like, your character would have to wear a Light Armor, you would then be stuck with hide or leather armor, right?
And so what this does is like, here’s a way where if you or your character doesn’t want to use the remains of an animal to create your armor, you now have a way that has the same armor stats but is built a different way, which I love. There’s a lot of things like this that are like, adding inclusion and accessibility in new ways, and I really loved it that. That was immediately, I was like, one, it looks beautiful. It’s like these blue leaves and bark. And two, I think that’s just a great inclusion for people who would rather not have to wear hide or leather.
Esther: Absolutely. The Leaf Weave stuck out to me as well. The other two that I really loved were the Coral Armor, which is just gorgeous and goes along with that whole undersea thing that I long to do, and I loved the descriptor “If worn underwater, some of this coral can even be alive.” And then I also loved what was called the, I think I’m gonna say it, Niyaháat, which is from the Erutaki indigenous communities near the Crown of the World, and it’s made of strips of bone or horn. I loved both of these things in conjunction with something we’ll get to later in the book, which is the new Crafting rules where you can grow something or craft your own stuff out of bone or horn.
And I was like, how cool would it be if you were able to grow your own Coral Armor as part of a quest, or craft your own bone or horn armor as part of your story? So I just think there’s a lot of little details in this book too, that really hold hands from one chapter to the other. And I love that kind of attention to detail and just the way things can synchronize and meld.
Navaar: Yeah, I think it’s both great as a worldbuilding thing, and then also as a way for GMs to sometimes either fill space or create an arc, right? It’s like, “I need this thing” or “I want this thing.” And at the end of you doing that you now have this opportunity to like, “Oh, well now the thing that you went after or whatever, you can turn into this new, really badass armor. Or you can turn it into this different weapon.” Or, as we’ll get into, you can capture something that you didn’t think you could capture and put it into a bottle.
And things like that, I think, are a lot of fun because, one, I think in the beginning of any adventure, you don’t always know like, what is the Big Bad, or what’s the situation that we’re getting into? What’s the ultimate goal of this campaign? And two, I think there’s times when it’s like, cool, we just did a big arc. Now we just need to like, blow off some steam. What’s the thing we’re gonna do to blow off some steam? “I’m gonna go grow armor down in the sea for a while. I think that’s my journey for the next two months.”
Esther: Love it. Yeah.
Esther: So is there specific armor in this section that we wanna talk about?
Navaar: Yes. Are we talking about the Magic Armor? Because I think like the basic stuff is, like I said, it’s adding some new traits to it, but for the most part you’re going to see a lot of the same stuff that you would see on normal armor.
When it came to the magical armor, the one that I really, really loved is a high-level item, but it’s the Black Hole Armor. And essentially you can absorb missile attacks and redirect missile attacks that are going to somebody else and take them all into your armor. And then you can basically create a vortex near somebody else within 120 feet and drop all the stuff that you absorbed onto them in an area, and it does 10d8 piercing damage with a DC 35 Reflex save. This is a Level 16 item, but ah, I love it. That’s just so good. You know, if you’re that tank on the battlefield and you know a bunch of arrows and all these other projectiles are gonna be coming at you, and then you wear this armor and then have that moment of redirecting it against somebody? Yeah. I am all for this.
Esther: I would also really love to play against that if like, an NPC enemy were wearing it. As somebody who’s played a ranged character fairly recently, I actually think it would be a really fun challenge for me to ha– like be firing all this ammunition off and then get it fired back. Frustrating, but really cool.
Navaar: Yeah, for sure. I mean, I think anything that changes — and I probably said this before on the show — but I think anything that changes how you have to act on the battlefield is something that I, I think we need more of in any TTRPG. I love the idea of like, you can never just sit still, right? Maybe for a while, maybe for a couple rounds, but eventually you’re gonna have to move because something else is coming, or fight for your space to stay there. And I really love that idea of, “Cool, yeah. Stay up there and keep shooting at me. And then in round five, I’m going to drop all of these back on you. And you’ve been taking 3 attacks every turn.” Yes, please. I hope I fight this someday, too.
Esther: I’m glad you picked a high-level one. I was enchanted by all of the armor, like the Immortal Bastion, which is a Level 20 item. It looks like a, a freaking castle that you wear on yourself.
But since you talked about a higher-level item, I am going to do the lower-level when I picked, which is the Blade Byrnie, and it’s aLevel 7+. It essentially lets you pull a link from your armor, which transforms into a +1 striking dagger, and it can disappear and reappear as a link in the armor after you strike with it, or at the end of your turn if you don’t make a strike. You can upgrade the runes on the Blade Byrnie and make the daggers pulled from it more powerful, like a +2 or a +3 dagger.
I just thought this was really cool, and I could picture a Rogue character wearing that kind of armor and just pulling daggers out and throwing them. And I was like, that would be so amazing, especially at a somewhat lower level.
Navaar: There’s like a — sort of a trope of like, that person, the person who has a ton of throwing knives and is just like, constantly pulling knives out and using different ones and leaving them where they are. And I think that visually would be an incredible fight scene. So yeah, I love that.
It looks dangerous to wear, to be clear.
Esther: It does.
Navaar: It looks like it looks like the Iron Throne from Game of Thrones, but a shirt. But all that said, it still would be awesome. I would use grapple attacks only, and hope that my GM just lets it happen. [Esther and Navaar laugh]
But yes, there are so many different ones. The other thing that’s really cool — I focus a lot, personally, on the ones that would benefit a character, but there are also cursed items in here. And I think that’s very important to know as a GM. I haven’t used a cursed item against my players yet, but I definitely will someday because I think it’s so funny.
We just get so excited for magic items. And I think when you have a plethora of magic items being handed out in a game, it really is like, “Cool, my guard is let down now. I will accept any magic item that comes across my face, bind myself to it, and deal with the consequences after.” And yeah, I think it’s hilarious.
Esther: It is hilarious. It’s really fun to remind people that like, hey, sinister things exist in this world too, and if you get too complacent about not checking things out fully, not taking your time with them, you just bond immediately to something really powerful… what are the ramifications of that? I love that as just kind of a funny thing that can happen, but also as a really powerful story moment.
Esther: Like what does it mean to get so comfortable and then just really get too complacent?
Navaar: I mean, I think, I love creating tension in, in game and, and creating those moments of that kind of a story, and I think that it’s great when you have resources that can help you do that as well. Like, yeah. Now I have these magical items I can, I can use to build into that, um, in a room just full of magical stuff, right?
Like, even if you set it up something like this, like it’s a dragon’s hoard and you put 12 of these items in there, the players are all gonna fight over all 12 and they will put all 12 on and it will be hilarious for somebody. So yes, beware the curse stuff, but don’t run away from it. It’s good for you. It’s good for the story.
Esther: It is, it is.
Navaar: Among the armaments, it goes next into shields. I’m not a person that generally uses a lot of shields in-game, but I think one, shields are our fun aesthetic and I think they obviously serve a purpose. But because I’m not — I’m a person that I know generally like, I want to use two-handed sword or whatever, what I really loved the idea of was the Gauntlet Buckler. Which basically like, it doesn’t have to be a shield, but you can activate it and it spreads out in a fan and becomes a buckler on your arm. It’s functional and it’s fun and it looks good. That’s the best way to sell me on it.
Esther: It looks super dope. The illustration is really, really cool. It’s like the, the fan of it all, I love it.
Esther: So for those who do use shields, there are 8 new shield traits, which are Deflecting, Foldaway, Harnessed, Hefty, Inscribed, Integrated Launching, and Shield Throw, and then 12 new shields. So you may wanna check those out. They’re on page 20 of the book, and they’ll be up on Archives of Nethys, too. My standout shield was the magical shield The Starfall Shield, which is Level 19, like this gorgeous adamantine shield that kind of looks like a cratered moon. And it is a +3 greater striking shield, and it lets you once per day take 3 actions to Stride up to 3 times, not triggering any reactions and ignoring difficult terrain. And at the end of your movement, you do 6d10 bludgeoning damage in a 10-foot emanation and 14d6 fire damage in a 40-foot emanation. And I was like, all that from a shield! I mean, it’s Level 19, but that’s the kind of item I would play in a campaign just to get and use just for the fun it.
Navaar: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. The one that I really loved is a lower-level — which is funny that we’re doing the opposite on this one now — is the Sapling Shield. Basically it’s a wooden buckler and it has the image of a sapling on it, and the sapling withers as the shield takes damage. But you can activate it and it grows into a Tower Shield, and it gives you an AC bonus. And you basically take on all the traits of using a Tower Shield, but it basically keeps the same hit points in broken threshold, but the Hardness goes up and the Bulk increases. And you can revert it as well.
And I think that’s just a lot of fun, like, especially if you are a Druid who’s using a shield, or anybody really. But just that ability to be like, “Ooh, I actually need to hunker down now and protect myself and go like full defense mode.”
And now you have — you can just change it to this Tower Shield in that moment, use in action. There’s a lot of fun. It’s again, great, great flavor, great roleplay moments, to try to survive those difficult combats.
Esther: Especially at a lower level, like, that’s a fantastic item.
Navaar: Mm-hmm. It’s a Level 3 item, yeah. Which, I mean, a lot of people, like we talk about like, start out Level 2 or Level 3. So that’s the sort of thing you can instantly sort of negotiate with your GM about getting.
Esther: Super cool. I realize we also skipped over the Armor Property Runes.
Navaar: Oh yeah, yeah.
Esther: I think there’s 12 new ones? And my pick there was the Level 13 Energy Adaptive Rune, which basically, once per hour you gain Resistance 5 to a triggering type of energy damage. I thought that was cool.
Navaar: Yeah. I love the runes. What I really love too, about 2E, is the idea that so much of this stuff is built for — you need to give your players magic weapons. You need to give them runes. You need to help them increase their stuff in order to stay balanced with the game. Because that’s one of the best parts as a player, to get cool stuff. So yeah. All about it. Which I think takes us into now the weapons!
Navaar: So there is a really fun one that I found that I really loved. And it’s called the Wrecker. Excuse me, I’m trying to find the page. I have bad handwriting, which is my own fault.
Esther: I could in the meantime briefly talk about the new weapon traits. There’s 17 new weapon traits and one new firearm critical specialization. There are 38 new melee weapons, 15 new ranged weapons, and 5 combination weapons. Which like, wow, they gave us a ton here. I was counting it up and I was like, that is so much. If you are just somebody who wants to like play a melee character or have a weapon, this is awesome. So yeah, let’s, let’s get into our favorites.
Navaar: Yeah. So my favorite of the new ones is the Wrecker. It’s a bracer, basically. You put on your arm and it combines a dwarven dorn-degar, dorn-dergar, and a heavy gear reinforced arm that you can shoot this wrecking ball out of. And then it also can be retrieved on a spool. So it’s, yeah, basically like this giant morningstar that shoots outta your arm. It’s so fun.
Esther: Who wouldn’t wanna shoot a morningstar out of their arm?
Navaar: Yes, basically, yeah.
Esther: That IS fun.
Navaar: Um, I mean, it’s two hands. You have to use two hands to use it, and it’s got a range of 20 feet. But I just think like, again, this is another one where it’s like, “Cool. As a GM, I have the surprise attack. Yeah, you walk through the hallway and as you pass the intersection, a morningstar flies at your face, and then you hear the crank of them bringing it back together.” It’s the dream.
Esther: Amazing, amazing.
Navaar: What about for you?
Esther: Yeah, I took notes on a couple weapons, but I’m finding that I actually took more notes on the weapon runes. So there’s 8 new runes and the ones that apparently really stood out to me were the Merciful rune. It lets you deal non-lethal damage and on a critical hit, it makes the person you’re attacking become fascinated with the weapons wielder for 1 minute. And I thought that was a cool option if you wanna play a Fighter but you don’t wanna deal lethal damage. I love ways to change up the game like that, and it was just a really cool thing to encounter here.
The other one was a Swarming rune, which means the weapon is able to copy itself many times over when thrown until the air is filled with deadly blades, and once per hour you get to throw your weapon and it multiplies, filling a 30-foot cone. And then all the creatures within the area take damage equal to double the weapon’s number of damage dice with a basic Reflex save. I just thought that was cool. It was like another Rogue moment: if you throw something, it multiplies and then rains down… how awesome would that be?
Navaar: You’re talking about the Merciful rune… I love like themed campaigns or even like oneshots or short game series. The idea of like playing an investigation game, I think is a lot of fun. Probably not everybody wants to be an Investigator, right?
And so maybe you are playing in this situation like that where it’s like, okay, we’re going to investigate this crime and we’re going to try not to hurt people. And so it’s like, ” ‘Cool, I’m gonna be an Investigator.’ ‘Cool, I’m gonna be a Monk.’ And it’s like, ‘Cool, I’m gonna be a Fighter and you probably shouldn’t hurt people.'”
So now it’s like, do you find other ways to do this? Or do you take this rune now and you’re able to play in the same space as those other two without sacrificing the things that your character can do. And I think that’s a lot of fun for that kind of theme,
Navaar: The one that really I loved — again, this is another thing that’s like depending on the campaign you’re in — but the Earthbinding rune. A weapon with this rune hums when touched the ground. So you can activate it on a reaction; if you critically hit a flying creature with the weapon, it casts a Earthbind spell on the flying creature with a DC 20. Which if you’re in a situation where it’s like, I don’t want this thing to fly away, or I’m having a hard time because they’re so high, getting that hit off and bringing them down to you, that’s… yeah. This is a very conditional one, but I, I love this conditional stuff. Because it’s like, this is– when you’re the person that needs it, you need it.
Esther: And it gives GMs really specific opportunities to build certain combat scenarios, which I love. I love if a player comes to me and is like,”I wanna do this rune.” It lets me know, oh, then I need to give them somebody who’s got the ability to fly. I need to give them something to pair this with. And I find that extremely helpful.
Navaar: Yeah. A flock of harpies.
Esther: Yes! A flock of harpies. [laughs]
Navaar: I feel like harpies would be like a murder, like, you know, like crows, like it’s probably of harpies.
Esther: It’s gotta be.
Navaar: Yeah. That’s, that’s my headcanon, so.
Esther: I love it. It’s official now. A murder of harpies.
Esther: Speaking of pairing things, the other thing that I had written down was the new paired weapon. They are like sets of weapons where one’s damage is linked to the other. So say like, you are wielding one kind of weapon and then your other party member is wielding the other in the linked pair, your damage like, reflects off the other. And if, say, your weapon hit and then they were able to hit with their weapon, their weapon would do more damage or like a different kind of damage based on the fact that you also hit with yours. I just thought that was like a really, really cool thing to introduce.
Hadn’t occurred to me before. And then reading through it I was like, “Oh, that’s, that’s amazing.”
Esther: Really gives party members the opportunity to have just another thing linking them and like, cool story roads for getting those weapons, for establishing why they have two linked weapons. Yeah, it just painted a, a lot of possibilities for me and I liked that.
Navaar: Yeah, I mean I think like I’ve– there’s been more than a couple times that I’ve been in games or been planning games with people that have been like, what would be really cool is if we did some team moves. I set you up and you do this thing, and vice versa.
I’ve never used it in Second Edition, so I don’t remember if it actually exists, but I know in First Edition there was like, specific actual team feats that you could take that if both people had them, you could do certain things.
There’s a reason I think that those existed, and it’s because people actually enjoy it. I would say a majority of people — I’m gonna just throw my guess out there — watch anime or other cartoons you know what I mean? Read other kind of media that has people teaming up together. And those moments of like, a coordinated attack, it’s so incredible. And I think that’s what we strive for in roleplay, generally speaking. And so I, I really love that idea.
Esther: Yeah, like, that kind of cinematic play with really deep character ties. It just facilitates that on another level, and what’s not to love about that?
Navaar: Yes. Absolutely. There’s so many really, really cool weapons. One of them that really stuck out to me, just because it’s so wild and weird, was the Alghollthu lash?
Esther: Yeah, that one!
Navaar: Uh, which is — yes, yeah. It’s a fleshy +1 striking whip, and it’s made from a tentacle of a beast, and it constantly drips slime. And the slime is a curse. So not only are you using this striking whip, but you also curse somebody when you do it, and the curse is pretty wild. When you get to Stage Three, your skin transforms into a clear, slimy membrane, and you’re constantly being drained by this. You continue doing that until you remove it.
I think it’s, again, this is one of those things like curses. It’s cool if you have sort of an NPC that you’re fighting that you know that has a chance to escape. But I don’t feel like — this is really GM dependent, like, you hardly ever see that play out. But on the reverse end, a GM using this against a player? Mmm. Chef’s kiss. So good to like, wake up the next day and be like, “Excuse me. Why is your skin transparent right now? What is happening to you? You’re so sticky.”
Esther: Right, right?! I also just gotta say that one was another weapon that simply looked cool in the illustration. Like, this long, like bluey-purple tentacle thing. It just adds to the flavor. I loved that. I love that you picked that one.
Esther: I had a lower-level one, which was the Windlass Bolas, which is a clockwork mechanism, which is like, inside the weights of these +1 striking returning bolas. And essentially it lets you throw cords out and wrap around a group of enemies and attempt a ranged Trip against all creatures in a 5-foot radius burst. I just thought that was really cool, like, especially for a fairly low-level item. A sweet thing to try on the battlefield, like, just tripping a bunch of people and shooting that out from your arms seemed cool.
Navaar: Yeah. So what’s funny, too, is the bola is the preferred weapon of Grandmother Anadi, Grandmother Spider —
Esther: Grandmother Spider!
Navaar: And so if that is your patron, you then can use this item — or at least I would, as a GM, let you use this item — and then now you are still within your deity’s preferred item, but you’re also have this even cooler version of what you were doing.
Esther: I love that. Yes. Ooh, you just gave me an idea for my own campaign. Mm, I love it.
Navaar: Listen, I don’t GM enough and this is my brain just exploding. It’s all gonna come out. I’m gonna GM it or I’m writing it into an adventure, but we will get this somehow.
So basically: tons of items, tons of weapons, and those are always a lot of fun.
I am a person who, in one of my home games, has an Alchemist, and so this next section is a lot of fun. Even if you don’t have an Alchemist, there’s a lot of really cool stuff in here to get into… which is, of course, Alchemy Unleashed. And this introduced a ton of new recipes, a ton of new, different bombs and ammunition, and also alchemical foods.
Esther: I can’t wait to get to the foods. That was one of my favorite sections of the whole book, so I’m very excited for that. I just wanna shout out the art on page 40, which is like a full page illustration right before you get to the first page of text for Alchemy Unleashed. And it’s three of the Iconics and this green alchemical fire and like a shattered glass vial. They all look shocked and mildly horrified. And then this little creature in rafters up above them that I assume is Purepurin the kobold, looking down and kind of like smiling, and she doesn’t look perturbed in the slightest. She looks kind of into it all. I just loved that illustration and this insight into this little kobold who’s guiding us through the treasure vaults and how happy she is at disaster. It’s just really lovely.
Navaar: Yeah. Yeah. I was just gonna say like, I think this was similar in the Ultimate Equipment book that I was talking about before of just like, they put the Iconics in there a lot with all these like different little shenanigans going on, and I just love it. I think it’s a fun way to fill that art space, which I think is essential for this book, but I really do. It’s a lot of fun to see.
So… gosh, there’s so many different things. I think the different ammunition types…. bombs, again. Alchemists have like a specialty that they can be bomb throwers and just create bombs at whim, but bombs are something that anybody can use. It’s a consumable. I think… give more bombs to your players. That’s my, that’s my GM tip of today. [Esther and Navaar laugh] Do you have a, do you have a favorite that or anything that stuck out?
Esther: So the first thing that stuck out is the new familiar ability, actually, which is on just the first page of Alchemy Unleashed, which is Alchemical Gut. You get to choose one alchemical item with a level no higher than yours that has the Distilling trait, and then your familiar gets to act as that item by like, swallowing it and digesting it. And I am, I’m always here for letting familiars do more things, be more active, like really encouraging play with them. And so I loved that this got brought in. Just super cool.
There are new injectable terms for weapons where you can like, inject stuff that you put into a weapon in the middle of combat or whatever.
My definite favorite section was the foods. If we wanna do anything before then, I don’t wanna just ramble about food the whole time. So happy to do something else…
Navaar: No, I… yeah, I also immediately skip to foods as well. But yeah, I would just say if, if you’re looking for fun, fun consumables to give to your players, go through those pages, because I really… bombs are great. It’s a great way for any player to like, have a ranged attack, even though it’s limited range. And it’s chaos, so yeah, do that. But… the foods!
Esther: The foods! Let’s talk about the foods.
Navaar: I am a person who drinks coffee every day, multiple cups of coffee every day. And so this is gonna be no surprise, but the first thing that stuck out to me was the Insight Coffee.
So the other part of this is, I have so many characters I wanna play. But one of the characters I really wanna play as an Investigator, because I’ve been obsessed with Sherlock Holmes since I was a kid. The first game I ever made is the detective game. I love the idea of Investigators. And so, yeah, so it says “A popular choice for Investigators studying alchemy is Insight Coffee.”
Which, for an hour after you drink it, you get to use d8s instead of d6s for your extra damage from your Strategic Strike, if you have it. And you also gain an item bonus to checks to Recall Knowledge with a skill. And yeah, that’s just like… every day I wake up and drink coffee. And as a player it’s like, “Yeah, cool, I’m gonna do this. I’m just gonna constantly be making coffee and I will roleplay whether or not how affected I am from this caffeine.” But it also benefits me in this moment, and I love that.
Esther: The refrain of “I drink coffee every day” to me is so powerful because it’s like, if you’re in a fantasy world where magic exists and alchemy exists, why wouldn’t you be infusing quote-unquote everyday foods with magic, with alchemy, doing really cool things with them?
Navaar: So true.
Esther: I just love the immersion in the world that it brings me.
I had trouble picking my favorite foods because every one of them I was like, “Ooh, this is so cool. There’s a really specific scenario — or even a lot of general ones — where this works and I love it.”
The first one that really got me was the Crackling Bubblegum, which is actually fairly low-level. It’s 5 and you can upgrade it. But yeah, you, you blow a bubble with the gum until it pops. And then it deals Sonic damage to all creatures in a 15-foot cone with a Basic Fortitude save. And I was like, how perfect is that? If you’ve ever heard someone smacking bubblegum and you’re just really not into that sound, I love the interpretation of that as sonic damage. Brilliant.
Esther: Whoever did that, I’m a fan.
Navaar: Yes. Yeah. And it also gives you an item bonus as well, against the saving throws for it. There are so many different things and again, a lot of these aren’t like super high level either. The Bubblegum was another one that really stuck out to me.
Yeah. This Cooperative Waffles…
Navaar: So the, basically, waffles that you make that you can split waffles with another creature, and after both of you eat half of them to activate them, when one of you uses to Follow The Expert to follow the other, circumstance bonus granted is one higher. Which is like, again, a very simple, a very simple thing that benefits you in-game. And it’s just like, cool, well, now you have a reason to like, make breakfast in-game, right? Now you have a reason to like, do this stuff and have these like campfire moments, when it might have been something that you would skip before.
Esther: I love the idea of characters making these and using them, but also as we’re saying, like encountering them in the world. If you see a bowl of mints in someone’s house and you pick one up, you pop it in your mouth, and it turns out to be the Level 1 item Missive Mint and you get a random message from someone you don’t know, you can’t recognize their voice, and it’s just a completely random string of 25 words. You pop it in your mouth, you hear it, and you’re like, “Well, what was that?” But it becomes a, a plot thread for something that you’re trying to get the players into. You go to like a, a diplomatic dinner and you have some Diplomat Charcuterie, and then you get a +1 item bonus to Diplomacy checks to Make An Impression and Perception checks to Sense Motive. And it’s just by having hors d’oeuvres, this occurs to you. I love that.
And you can even like, throw it in if the players are trying to like sense if anything’s up with the food, you can play it a little bit coy and they have to make a decision whether they wanna risk something that could give them a benefit or maybe not. I love the potential with all of this so much.
Navaar: In a world where there are people who can literally divine some kind of future, the idea of like setting those up as a way to call for help or, or tip somebody off to like, “Hey, I’m missing and this is actually why.” I love that idea of this mysterious oracle or witch or whatever, or wizard, has these set about in the off-chance that things go awry. I think that’s great.
Esther: That’s a genius interpretation that I had not thought of, but like, yeah, if you’re clairvoyant and you can literally get hints of the future, why wouldn’t you use it to tip somebody off?
Navaar: Mm-hmm. I would. And only set them out the moment before everything goes by. I mean there’s, there’s so many really, really fun things, that we, like we talked about, I think that the food especially like or just, you know, pranks in a tavern, right?
Different things you could do with this stuff that I think is a lot of fun, makes it worth looking at, makes it worth investing in Crafting, right? And being able to like, do this stuff or, or finding the people that can supply it for you. Because, yeah, I think it’s a great way to, from a game design standpoint, it’s a great way to get people to use other things in the game other than just attack and movement.
Esther: I feel like ever since the moment on Critical Role when Laura Bailey used a cupcake to undo a really powerful curse, food in tabletop is becoming a little bit more of a thing that people think about utilizing in play, to do things, to accomplish things, and I simply love the way that was brought forward here. Just, beautiful job. Whoever pitched this, well done.
Navaar: Well done. Yes. That moment is literally the only reason I watched Campaign Two, just to figure out the context of why that happened. But yeah, I think there’s a lot of fun, like, you know, we talked about before, like, when you have players that can do — that, have creative ideas about how to do this stuff, it’s just one more thing to just kind of spice up the game. And yeah, we should be doing that.
One of these is just, it just looks so wild, which is the Witch’s Finger. It just, it’s like a witch’s finger, a frozen treat on a stick, but taking a bite makes you feel warm. For 1 hour you have Cold Resistance 3 and for 8 hours the treat negates the damage you would take from severe environmental cold and reduces damage you take from extreme cold to that of severe cold. Which is just like a, just a silly little thing, but.
Esther: It’s like imagine if a Popsicle was shaped like someone’s finger and then you ate it and you got like warmth cold —
Navaar: You got warmth inside —
Esther: — resistance, like amazing.
Navaar: Yeah. Yeah. I’m glad that that picture was included in these because not all the food’s included, but that one was.
Esther: That great.
Navaar: And I’m very grateful for it.
Esther: So anything else in the Alchemy section that really stood out to you?
Navaar: I mean, there’s just a lot of stuff in here that really can just help you either find creative ways to like, have new flavor for certain things or just do other fun stuff. Like, Healing Vapor is a substance that accelerates natural recovery, right? You know, it’s just a great way of like, we don’t have a Cleric in our party, or a divine Sorcerer, you know, what’s a way we can use to increase our Hit Points and stuff like that, which I think is great. Like, I, I love the idea that you don’t have to rely on a specific class in Pathfinder 2E and having this kind of stuff just reinforces that and gives you new creative ways to look at how you can build your character and not feel like you’re obligated to be one thing, because it’s what the party needs, quote unquote.
Esther: The range of options are just so broad and really conducive to being able to do a lot of stuff with a lot of different builds. And that’s what I love about this system, is the customizability and the versatility of it. And that comes through a lot, this whole book, but especially this section.
Navaar: There was another one in Alchemy that I wanted to go over. Not in food, but in a couple of sub- categories down, which is called Bottled Monstrosities. And this is what I alluded to earlier. So after you defeat a monster, you can bottle it to bring it back later. Which is basically necromancy, which is another, like, if you’re doing this and that’s a theme of your game, one, that’s a great element to add.
Two, it’s just cool that you can just be like, I am going to use 10th-level item Tyrant Ampoule. And on my turn, I will be releasing a fearsome Tyrannosaurus that I shrunk into a bottle, and it does damage. And it, yeah, it’s massive. And that just one that I really enjoyed. There are so many, different kinds of monsters you can stash into a bottle.
Esther: Yeah, Kraken Bottle. Hippogriff In A Jar. There’s like, Octopus Bottle, which is the less intense version of Kraken Bottle. This section is really, really cool. And the other thing I loved, without going through every one, is that I could imagine —
Esther: — designing my own one of these based off of this kind of a template.
Navaar: Yeah, I was going to say the same thing. Absolutely.
Esther: It made it super accessible to think like, “Okay, if they battled this kind of monster and then harvested some of its organs or parts or whatever, it would be really easy to set up a Crafting scenario where they could make this.” And I love that idea. Really, it’s very — it’s very able to be tailored to your campaign and your specifics of whatever you’re doing.
Navaar: Yeah. I mean, like in a lot of times it’s like, when you need to do it — the body of the thing that you want to bring back — and so it’s like, “Yeah, we are going into this, you know, we’re trying to take over this castle, whatever, and it’s gonna be all these soldiers and all this big old fight. You know what would be great is, what if we just went first to go defeat a Purple Worm? I put it in a bottle, we throw it over the wall, we wait 10 minutes, then we go in…”
So this is an item that I made years ago that I never like — this is before I was like a quote-unquote Content Creator TM — an item that I made for a campaign that I never got to use, ’cause it was like the session that I was gonna use it, we just stopped playing before, then our campaign fizzled out. But it was the idea of a, just a little Yes Man type of guy that’s like, working for the Big Bad that first will — he sends the message, right, of like, “Et cetera, et cetera, you did a thing and we’re upset and we’re coming after you.”
And so you’re like, “Okay, well we’re gonna fight you.” And then sends the minions out. And then if you try to chase him, he pulls a green cubicle medallion from his necklace and throws it at you. And when it hits the ground, it explodes into a Gelatinous Cube. And then it, you are now dealing with a Gelatinous Cube.
And I think this was, again, this was like 2019 when I came up with this idea. Not to say that Pathfinder stole it from me — I’m literally, literally not saying that. But I just think like, I love the idea of putting that into an item and now creating a Pokémon, for lack of better words. And then just escaping and being like, “Well, we’re in a hallway and you gotta get past —
Navaar: — this cube. I gotta go.” Yeah. And I have like roll rules, like, if you didn’t get hit with it, it would still roll and activate.
Esther: That’s so cool and like, so re-creatable with this. Yeah.
Navaar: Just stash it in there. Yeah. Again, the artwork for this, as we say, all the artwork for this is so incredible, but like, the idea that you can just like, somehow trap these gargantuan creatures in here, um, which Yeah. To fight more gargantuan creatures?
Navaar: Why not fight a kaiju?
Esther: Yeah, why not fight a kaiju? Why not fight one of the Tane? Like, put one of the Tane in this bottle and see what, happens see how your next fight goes! The Jabberwocky…
Navaar: Yeah. Every time you take massive damage and I’m gonna be like, Hmm, let’s see if that bottle broke in your pocket. Only do that if your players are fine with you being mean, I guess.
[Esther and Navaar laugh]
Esther: So the one other Alchemical item that I really wanted to talk about, as much as there are amazing poisons and permanent items and elixirs, it’s actually in Alchemical Tools, and it may seem kind of silly, but it’s the Colorful Coating, the Red Colorful Coating. There’s like a bunch of different colors that you can make, but the red one essentially turns a set space into a trampoline and whatever falls on it just keeps bouncing until it eventually like bounces down safely and nobody’s hurt.
And when I read this, I was like, somebody watched The Emperor’s New Groove, watched Kitten Yzma fall down onto a giant trampoline and was like, we need to put that in the game. And let me tell you, I, Esther, am here for that. I was like, I’ve gotta find a way to get this Red Colorful Coating to my players, engineer a situation for them to use it, and then people are just gonna bounce. It’s gonna be a trampoline ground. I just love little things like that, you know, and it may seem funny, but there’s a lot of ingenious ways you could use that. And I loved that the idea of turning something into a giant trampoline. Who wouldn’t wanna?
Navaar: Again, like, you know, you’re playing a heist or something like that, like, planning your exit and it’s like, yep, we’re just gonna jump out the window. Because the people who are chasing you don’t know that you will bounce when you hit the ground. They’re just gonna watch you jump out a 70-foot window, and that’s terrifying to see. So, plan your exits.
Yeah, I love that. I think that, again, like there’s so many different ways…. tapping into that player and GM creativity with these items, I think is the main takeaway. Which I think like, in terms of like, yes, like this is us, you know, we’re reviewing this. Like, I think one of the things that makes me love this book so much is that is how much it inspires from both aspects of the game.
This is so topical, but we have vaccines canon in Pathfinder 2E. And yeah, I was like, that’s so good. It’s a Level 1 item. It goes higher, too. But like the idea of, again, of just planning of like, “Oh, okay, well we’re gonna be in this dungeon and we did all our research ahead of time and we are going to prep ourselves and take a vaccine. Everybody will get vaccinated against this disease.” And then you’re safe. And it’s just like that’s, this is so good. Just like, again, we don’t need to have a Cleric or a Champion or a whatever. This is just the party either buying it or finding the resources to Craft it and making that. And I love it.
Esther: I actually wrote this one down too. It really struck a chord with me because in a previous campaign I was co-GM and like occasionally we’d swap around and like, one of us would get to play, my character was in love with someone who in Pathfinder 1E was a Werebat-kin. And there was this whole thing about the fact that in that system they still had like, bloodlust.
And she was an Investigator in that game, but had some like alchemy stuff going on. And one of her goals was developing a vaccine for this. And so it was really cool to read in this system, you can go up to Level 18 with this, and create permanent duration vaccines. And so I just, I loved if there’s something that’s like really affecting somebody’s life long-term, and you wanna have a major character arc around that. Even as a GM, if someone were like, I wanna create a vaccine for lycanthropy, I’d be like, okay, whole long campaign arc, but that’s maybe doable with something like this. It just creates so many good moments from the really simple things at Level 1 to maybe you’re ending at Level 20 and you have this culminating like life’s research that gets fulfilled.
Esther: Just a super cool thing to add.
Navaar: Yeah. I really enjoy the idea too of, this a fantastical world, right? Like we just talked about, like people can literally use divination, and you can be healed by somebody’s channeling their divine connection into you. But also there is ingenuity.
There are these moments of finding a resource and finding a way of not always having to rely on that kind of person, or just finding a way to make it more accessible, right? And I think that I really loved that idea. Like, I think it was one of those things I was like, this is something that we’ve clearly taken for granted for so long that it surprised me that it was here, when I feel like it should have been… like, it almost makes more sense that it would be in the Core Rulebook. And that’s not like me throwing shade at Paizo at all. I think it’s just like, much like everybody, like, it’s just something we take for granted. And I love that there had to be a conversation around this, and that obviously got approved and everything else, because I think it’s just good. I love that it’s here and included for so many reasons, but I think it’s, it just, I don’t know. It’s a delight to see it, personally.
Esther: I feel the same way a lot about a lot of the accessibility tools that come up in a later chapter. And to me, vaccines kind of go hand in hand with that. Like, something that just gives greater access to going somewhere, to being able to do something. It is a really basic thing, but it makes the world feel more complete and more lived-in. And I love that it exists now. Well done. Paizo.
Navaar: Yes, absolutely. Yeah. So there are some more like, permanent alchemical items– I don’t think these are all specific to Alchemists — but yeah, there’s just some more basically things you can wear that can sort of benefit you on your adventure.
Esther: Including a flamethrower that the dragon, I believe, throws shade at in the introduction to this section. And then you read about it and you’re like, oh no, that’s a cool flamethrower!
Navaar: Yeah, it’s a cool flamethrower. Yeah. So much of this, especially this section, I was like, I really wanna go back to that home game just so that my friend can use all of this really cool alchemical stuff. But yeah, if you’ve got an Investigator who does the Alchemy, just do it.
I mean, it’s such a fun… I remember seeing a — it was over a year ago — like a little bit of the discourse around whether or not the Alchemist was a good class. And I, as a person who has run it, I love it. I love the idea of the way that the class works, and the player that I have in my game that uses that character, I think she’s done more damage to like, monsters and stuff than any of the other party. And she’s like, the main one that takes a lot of the stuff down and I think it’s, yeah, I love it.
Esther: That makes me really excited to play an Alchemist one day.
Esther: It’s one that I haven’t ever done and I really want to.
Navaar: It’s definitely worth it. There is another one that — it’s not in the alchemy, it’s in Momentary Magic and under a Catalyst. Catalysts are a way — it’s almost like metamagic, right? It’s like a way that you can add a thing to your spell to make it more. And the one that seemed the coolest, immediately was a Dragonthroat Scale, which basically you use it and it infuses that to a Magic Missile. Which Magic Missile can’t miss, but now it also takes on the elemental trait of the dragon scale that you used, which is incredible. So if you’re in a campaign that’s heavy on dragons or finding those scales like, in a magic shop, whatever, and you can purchase this stuff, and then you can use it. So it’s like, “Well, now I’m fighting this and I know that its weakness is this. I can use this specific scale to cataly to use as a catalyst for this Magic Missile. Which generally as a spell is like, it’s good because it never misses, but it also doesn’t do a ton of damage. But now you have, I’m fighting against your weakness. and that’s so good.
Esther: That was also my pick under Catalysts.
So, um, I’m excited we talked about it. Yeah. And so I’m excited we’re getting into this section, which is Momentary Magic and is all about Consumables. And they have sections on Catalysts, Fulus, Magical Ammunition, Missives, Oils, Potions, Talismans, and Wondrous Consumables. And there’s some really good stuff in here.
For me, I was most excited about the Missive section, partially because it’s something that one of my players recently asked me to homebrew a really similar kind of item to what’s covered in there. And so I was like, oh, stuff exists in canon now, awesome! But yeah, there’s, there’s a ton of good stuff in here. Where should we go…
Esther: Where should we go next?
Navaar: I would briefly like to talk about the Fulus, because when you were talking about the way that Valashinaz’s voice is used, this was the one. I read this and I was like, oh my god. I’m just gonna read this. I’m gonna put on my podcast voice and I’m gonna just read this to you because it’s so—
Esther: I I just love that you’re gonna do this, real quick, because —
Esther: — I wrote “Star: Valashinaz has a cool note here.” So… [Esther and Navaar laugh] So put on your podcast voice —
Navaar: Yeah. Okay.
Esther: — and go for it.
Navaar: [clears throat] “Fulus are humanity itself, expressed as magic labels. Individually, no Fulu represents reality-bending power. Most of them use minor magics so gossamer- light that they can lie hidden in a folded slip of paper for years or even generations. But with patience, strategy, and enough numbers, they can transform into a force capable of turning aside tides of demons or thwarting even a dragon’s will, at least temporarily.”
[awed tone] What!!
Navaar: Who wrote this?!
Navaar: Call in! We don’t have a phone. Message me, please.
Esther: Jump in the Discord and let us know who you are, please.
Esther: We are both really, really into this. That was just beautiful.
Navaar: I would like to read your poetry.
Esther: Yes. For real, for real.
Navaar: Yeah. So, I read this, I was mesmerized by it, and then I had to read it again, because I was like, oh my god. But essentially it’s like, yeah, it’s like little glyphs, if I understand it correctly, ways that you can kind of like, put on this magical label and use it to do different magical things like demolish something or trigger an anathema against a person. These are so good. Was there any of these specifically that stuck out to you?
Esther: Yeah, actually two of them that are interrelated, the Ghost Courier fulu and the Ghost Delivery fulu, which essentially are a way of sending and then receiving messages. You put up to 25 words on a little piece of paper, it blips into the Ethereal Plane and then blips to the Ghost Delivery fulu provided that fulu is within 500 miles.
I’ve spent a lot of time talking with friends about how one sends letters in a magical world before one gets access to Sending or if you don’t have access to the Sending spells. I love that this details a way you can be in communication with people, like Missive mints, but different. So I love reading about stuff like that and I could really see myself or my players using this, which feels –
Esther: — always feels important to me.
Navaar: Yeah. I was gonna say this is like texting when we were kids, where it’s yeah, it’s very expensive if you do it too much. And you can’t have a phone to text until you’re a certain age. But once you get it, then just be responsible, ’cause it’s a Level 8 item and it’s 100 gold per thing. But yes, I totally agree. I think that it’s a lot of fun and it, and it is again, how do we not have to rely on X Party member, right? When you’re that level, 100 gold is probably a negligible amount. And so knowing you can get to that point and then having this ability to be like, “Cool, the important things that I need to send, I can do this now within this 500 mile radius,” which is a pretty long distance. I love that.
Esther: Were there any that stood out to you?
Navaar: Yeah, uh, so the first one actually is, is pretty fascinating. The, the Anathema fulu is basically, you can like put these on on the floor essentially. And so if you know something’s gonna be coming for you, you trigger it against whatever it is, and then it has to make a Fortitude save or become Sickened.
It’s just a great way again, of just planning, right? Of knowing like, cool, we are going to draw this creature in. We are gonna fight it on our terms. How do we set up and everybody’s doing their different things. And I don’t have to worry about having a Druid here to do X, Y, like whatever.
it’s just like, no, I can now, as this player, I can get this item and I can now set this up, ’cause I know just from the things that I’ve learned how to fight this thing and again, like anytime you can get those… I think what’s really great is 2E has really redesigned my brain to think about like what a -2 actually means.
Because when you crit on +10, like that’s a massive number that changes. That’s a game changer. And so I think like, yeah, anything you can do to try to level the playing field or you know, give yourself that advantage in a fight, I think is a lot of fun.
Esther: I kept seeing like +2 or +3 on items in this book and just being like, wow, that is hu that’s a really good item. And I agree the game has rewired my brain to really respect what even a +1 can get me. And this book is so good for different things that will help you or sometimes hinder you in what you’re trying to.
Navaar: Yeah, for sure. Another one that’s just great is like, again, ’cause we were talking about this before, the Kaiju fulu, which is like, it just protects buildings against all sorts of damage, so when you fix it to a structure 100 feet by 100 feet and up to 50 feet tall. And it takes damage to structure as, as hard as standard grade adamantine against the damage and any damage that occurs within 1 hour after. I would love to have a situation where it’s like, yeah, we actually just have kaiju running around. We now have a market on Kaiju fulu, um, and what that does for the economy.
And everybody’s like, you know, and like, I think me, it’s just a fascinating, point of tension or just a way to like, yeah, actually really need this to keep this castle alive or we will be destroyed. These are just fun. Again, all of this stuff is just so good.
Magical Ammunition, I think is, again, like this is more towards those same magical items, but you wanted to talk about missives and just for the sake of time I think we can over to those.
Esther: I am not gonna go into it, but in breezing over Magical Ammunition, check out the Imp Shot magical ammunition. It’s hilarious.
But yeah, Missives, I just really love all of these. They have to be composed using the new Composed Missive activity, which takes 10 minutes. An interesting thing is that you can activate submissive unintentionally, like by accident if you’re just sort of stumbling into picking up a piece of paper and suddenly it turns out to be magical and you hear a voice going off. But you have to be able to understand the language it was composed in, in order to be able to activate it.
So it gives this example, like if it’s composed by a creature who speaks Common and you only speak under Common, you can’t activate one of these. I just loved all of them. One that stood out is something called a Heartening Missive, which they can do a lot of different things. But they, and what’s also called a Messenger Missive, have a range of 360 miles they can travel within 24 hours. And so again, my like, courier brain is going off and I’m like at Level 5 and 4 respectively. That’s a really good deal on sending someone a message or being able to grant them a little bit of a boon.
Navaar: Mm-hmm. Yeah, I, I love, like what this does, too, for a campaign that’s centered around intrigue, right? And you know, doing like, politics and stuff like the Red-Handed Missive. If you think somebody’s going through your stuff, when they pick it up their hands get coated in a red dye that doesn’t wash off for a week. Which is great for like, catching that person who’s sneaking around. Or if you are that person, and you were the one breaking into the, into somebody’s, office or whatever, it… really good.
Esther: It complicates things. It’s equally exciting to think about giving these to players and using them against them, or in combination to create tension, let me put it that way.
Navaar: Mm-hmm. Yeah, yeah, yeah,
Esther: To create tension in a story.
Navaar: Yeah. For sure.
The next three sections, just like reading them in order reads like we’re about to play The Witcher, which is Oils, Potions, and Talismans.
Esther: There’s some really cool potions going on in there. There’s one that lets you essentially cast the spell Mindswap. It’s Level 15, but really cool to think of it being in potion form.
There is one that I wanted to ask you how you felt about. It was the Rebirth Potion, which is on page 90, and it essentially lets you change Ancestries, which I thought was interesting,
Esther: And I was like, I’m not quite sure how I feel about that one.
Navaar: Let me read through this. So: “When the potion is created, this determines Ancestry and Heritage. After you drink the potion, you transform to the ancestry over 8 hours during your next period of rest… finish your transformation after the 8 hours are up. Throughout this time, you are Clumsy 2, Enfeebled 2, and Stupefied. Once transformation is complete, the potion’s magic ends and can’t be counteracted. Replace your ancestry, all the stuff that goes along with it. You lose your ancestry feats and select replacements. You have mild control over the change, but you end up with a unique appearance fitting your new ancestry. Drinking a rebirth potion of your current ancestry works normally allowing you to rearrange some of the cited ancestry elements.”
Huh. That’s interesting. Because it can’t be reversed. At first I was like reading it and I’m like, oh, well, maybe if you can do this to sneak into whatever, right? Or, you know, do shenanigans and then come back to it.
But because you can’t change back… that is a fascinating thing. I don’t know how I feel about that, really. I’m trying to think. Like, I, I’m trying to think of what’s the… what’s the purpose? Because all I can think about is like, why wouldn’t you want to be who you are? Which I think is like, maybe the part of it that sounded complicated, right?
And I think it is, right? I think that there is… I’ll say that there’s two parts to this. There… maybe there’s more than two parts.
There’s confusion for me about, like I said, what about your ancestry is it that you want to change from? There is an acceptance for me of like, I think that there are people who want to tell specific stories and this might be part of the story they want to tell. And I’m not gonna be the person that tells them they can’t tell that story, ’cause I think that there are things that can be complicated in a vacuum that people want to explore in story. And I think if you’re have the right table, then that’s perfectly fine.
I do wish it was reversible, just because I think…. even if it’s like, “Cool, I’m doing this thing and that, and, and exploring this idea,” this is a permanent thing that can’t be changed back, unless you do like a, god, I don’t even know. Like a resurrection spell? But that can go awry, ’cause that’s random. So, yeah. Fascinating. How, do you feel about this?
Esther: Really similarly, I think. I wanna honor that there could be stories that folks with particular lived experiences wanna tell using shifting ancestry. I think my first reaction was: if you’re unhappy with your ancestry — as a GM, if I thought — if I knew my player was, I would work with them to maybe create a new character of the ancestry they wanna play.
But if there’s something specific to that story that is really important, I’m not gonna say “never do this.” I too wish it was reversible. And reading it when I went in, I was like, okay, so there’s gonna be a reversible effect. It’ll be like, you can do this for a day, infiltrate, come back. And I think the irreversibility is what struck me and my feeling is that it’s something I would wanna handle with a lot of care in a campaign.
Navaar: Mm-hmm. Yeah.
Esther: So really similar.
Navaar: Yeah, I think it’s, complicated, right? Because it’s like, again, like if it’s just like a mechanical thing, like if you are just a new player and you made a character and you’re like, “You know what? We’re 5 sessions in. I don’t like these options and I didn’t realize, or, you know, I watched an Actual Play and this other person was using this other ancestry, and I think that would be really cool instead.” Yeah, it is just, I think, a conversation.
But I think that there’s something about, there’s something special about a, a player character. And when you are building a character from the ground up, I think it’s very easy — and I don’t want to generalize — but I think it’s very easy to love the way that that character’s created and, and love the process of how they got there and everything that goes into that.
And so I think that knowing that, and that being a reality for me as a, as a person, I find it difficult to be like, the story that I’ve created for this character is something that I, I want them to disassociate from their ancestry. Because that means like you’re disassociating from their ancestry, their heritage, the family that they have within the game.
We joke that like all characters in, in fantasy TTRPGs are orphans, but like, all of those people that are like associated with it, it’s a very complicated thing. I think if it’s something that you feel you want to do, I think it would for sure, like have a really, really, really good conversation with your GM about it. And understand like, what that means for story and — or if it’s something you want to explore.
I think, again, like, I cannot preach enough about safety tools and all of those things that could help this sort of situation. But I do find it interesting. If you wrote this section, call in. Again, message us. ‘Cause I really wanna talk about it, about what inspired it and why it is not reversible. And it doesn’t have to be something we talk about on the podcast, if that’s a thing. Like, I just, I am now very, very curious about this, cause I didn’t notice it as I was going through this.
Esther: I think, I think the last thing I would say is whenever something comes up in play or in a game mechanic that affects people in the real world, that we know can be an incredibly complex, nuanced, tender, raw thing, I think it takes a great deal of purposefulness and really working with safety tools in the context of a game to play something in a way that is gonna be generative.
And so for me, knowing how painful it can be when someone is like, particularly somebody who looks like me, um, and comes from my background, is like “I wanna, I wanna change my ancestry. I, I wanna do that.” I would feel weird about doing this in game. I’ll just say that here. But I don’t wanna say it’s not right for anybody ever. So I think where I come down is: love to have a conversation about it, even if it is off-podcast. And it’s a thing to approach with a lot of care.
Navaar: Yeah. I mean, I think it’s like there are, at least for the reasons I, think you and I have reticence about it, it’s something you have to decide if you even want it in your game, right? If it’s like, is this the thing about like, racism? Well, is there racism in your game? Not to say that there can’t be, but I — again, this all takes a lot of context, and a lot of everybody being on board with that idea.
For me it’s like, I can’t imagine a scenario where I would feel like as a GM, I’m pushing a character to want to feel like “I don’t want to be this anymore because of the way that my character’s treated.” That’s just not who I am as a GM and a person. But I know that there are people who play games and be like, “This is the experience I want to deal with because I want to do X, Y, and Z with this idea.” But again, everybody has to be on board with that. So, I dunno, it’s a very complicated thing. I think that there– this among so many other things– I don’t think it’s always as simple as being like, “Nope, you don’t have it in your game.” I think that’s a great rule if you’re playing with strangers to be like, yeah, I don’t want this. But I think everything needs context.
Esther: Yeah. Context and conversation.
Navaar: And yeah, and conversation. Yeah. So, fascinating. Please, please reach out. I wanna know if you wrote that. I wanna know.
So I think there’s one other thing that I point that I wrote down in my notes that… no, there are two other things. We, we are not stopping yet because there are two other things that I think we really need to talk about just from both of our ideas about them.
One of them was Apex Items, and the other one is the Assistive Items. And I don’t wanna leave this conversation without talking about those two things.
Yeah. So Apex items are just really, really cool world-bending stuff. I don’t think any of them are less than Level 17 as an item. And they all do really wild stuff. I think it, they were all really, really cool. So there wasn’t like a specific one, that I picked. But like, going through it, like Dragon Handwraps, which is a Level 20 item, they’re 80,000 gold pieces.
“Silken hand wraps feature in intricate embroidery of a serpentine red dragon adorn with golden thread.” Uh, shout out to Wheel of Time. “The handwraps function as a +3 major striking greater flaming Handwraps of Mighty Blows.” That is so much. Uh, you also gain a +4 item bonus to Athletics checks.” And you can do a slap the bottom of your palms with your hands played outward and cast out 7th-level Burning Hands spell. And…
Navaar: Yeah. I would be surprised if this wasn’t inspired by Wheel of Time in the aesthetic alone because that yells…
I don’t even wanna spoil it if people haven’t read it. It’s a great book, a great series of books. Um, but yeah, that’s what it reminds me of. I really wanna play a super high-level campaign just to use stuff like this.
Navaar: And just, yeah.
Esther: Yeah. So these are all items that give you a +2 to one of your ability scores, and it’s for a total of 18 or if the +2 would make it higher than 18, whatever the higher number is. And they’re all really amazing. I loved Laurel of the Empath, which winds up giving you a boost of a Wisdom score and it just lets you do a ton of stuff.
You can take half damage from an attack as a reaction. If you fail a saving throw, you treat it as a success. “You spend 10 minutes talking with one living creature and gain valuable insights into the personality of your target. And when your ritual is over, you gain a +4 item bonus to all Perception checks made concerning the target for one month.”
Amazing. Like these items are all like Level 17 through 20 and they’re just so cool.
Esther: Yeah. Makes you wanna play a high-level campaign just to get to use them.
Navaar: Yes. Absolutely. Yeah. God, I know that’s so much. yeah. 100%. The next one is like, the last big thing that we said, um, which is the Assistive Items, which I think are just, again, this is such a, an amazing thing to have, just accessibility. I know that there are staff on Paizo staff, I believe, that are disabled. Certainly freelance writers. And more stuff like this is so important, I think.
When I first joined the TTRPG space, like it was, the Combat Wheelchair was like the only thing that I had seen. I cannot remember the author’s name.
Navaar: Yeah, Sarah.
Esther: Their first name is Sarah, I know.
Navaar: Uh, yeah, yeah, yeah. And that was a big deal, both as like, a positive thing, and they got a lot of pushback from people who are… not great in my opinion. And so I love to see more of this stuff. I love to see things that can help people play in a game and…
And they don’t have to feel like they have to completely change if they want to, if they want to play similar to their own experiences or experiences that they’ve encountered, you know, with friends, family, whatever. I just love it. I think it’s, it’s really good. And there’s a lot of them, and in including Assistive Companions, which is just, yeah.
Esther: As a disabled person, I was so excited to see this whole section. I was so excited to see the sidebar they literally put in the text of this whole Trappings of Power section that’s like, “Disabled people exist. Everybody has a right to witness themselves. Enjoy.” Because so many disabled folks in TTRPG space have gotten pushback about wanting to see disability represented in the world of a game. And it is phenomenally awful. And so I’m really grateful to Paizo and just really happy that they’ve essentially been like, “No, this is how it is. We’re including this. Here we are.”
And these are just super cool items. When I, I was expecting it to be basically just for player characters. And the first thing you see is Animal Companion Mobility aids. Amazing. Then they also have like, you know, harnesses for a guide. They have new assistive companions, an Ooze Form chair, and a Rootball chair. And the Rootball chair is like a, a plant that helps you get around. They have — I just, I love this whole section — masks and respirators, canes, um, eye prosthetic eyes and appendages.
The thing I put a star by is the Confabulator, which is Level 3, and it’s on page 109 of the book. And it helps a nonverbal character use a musical instrument to shape sounds into speech. I was also not really expecting to see nonverbal folks represented here. And it was the loveliest surprise to find that. Thank you, Paizo.
Navaar: Yeah, I agree. I think it really is amazing. And like a lot of the stuff, like, I think what is really also great is a lot of the stuff is like low-level, right? Or even if it’s like Level 3, it’s like 25 gold pieces, which is like not necessarily a massively unattainable thing, um, in early, in an early play.
And why I think that’s important is like, it’s, there’s not a, there’s not a, like a gatekeepy thing. You know, it’s not like, “Oh, well, sorry, but your character’s going to have to deal with this without a special item until you’re Level 10.” That’s important because like we talked about, so many people play at these early levels, right?
Even if you skip Level 1, it’s still Level 2, Level 3 is where we start. And I think that, yeah, you want to be able to come into the game and feel good about your character. And I think that that’s important.
One of the first things I did in, in my first Pathfinder 2e Campaign — we had a NPC lose thier hand and we made a, part of the arc was making a magical prosthesis for him. And it was like druid crafted plus alchemically crafted, ’cause he was an alchemist and the player, it was her mentor. And we got to do like, a whole thing to like, build it together.
And yeah, I just love that this is here and that there’s so much of it. I mean, it seems like they’ve covered a ton of the accessibility issues that people would be dealing with. And so, yeah, it’s really good.
Esther: It’s really good. I love the intro that Purepurin gives to this where she basically says, “This is one of the only rooms in the boss’s vaults that anyone is allowed into. There’s even a checkout cart where anyone in the family can use things when they need them. Zeke got his new tail here after that tunnel collapsed, and the boss let me check out a cane for those months I was recovering from the mishap with the black powder.” I love that detail that this ancient, badass dragon who’s kind of like, a little bit intense in other parts of this book is just an accessibility queen and is —
Esther: –like, check out anything you want. Anybody gets this.
Esther: Really cool.
Navaar: Yeah. Yeah, I think that that’s like such a great, I love seeing that in like, worldbuilding where it’s like, this person might be a POS in every other situation, but they will not misgender you and they will let you use their accessibility aids and that, you know what I mean? Like, things like that because it, it really is like, I think it’s so good to, to be able to say: “On certain things, we’re going to draw a line as a matter of fact. Whether you decide to change that as a person in your own home is up to you. But from us here” — like me speaking as if I was part of Paizo — “like, this is what we’re saying is part of what we’re gonna do.” I think it’s a great message and I think it’s a great way to just show people where your values lie in regards to this. And I love to see it. it makes me glad, if for anything else, if we talked about this book just for this, I think that would be fantastic. So.
Esther: Yeah, totally. Absolutely agree.
Navaar: Yeah. So I mean, the rest of it is, basically it’s more of the mechanical stuff to help kind of a GM get into where they’re going. I think this is a great place, if you agree, to kind of just stop and talk about like, overall, our final thoughts on it and anything else that we kind of wanna close out with.
Esther: Yeah, absolutely. I got a shoutout the section on magical tattoos, the entire Crafting section, which gives amazing alternate rules for crafting about how to slow down or speed up with risks built in, how to craft purely from nature in a campaign that is inspired by like, Druid-centric circumstances.
They have like, garden scenarios where you can grow gardens of consumables and a garden can be like a typical plant garden, or a bakery, an ooze farm, rock gardens, wildlife preserves. Just super, super cool. They talk about story-based crafting. I just had to shout out that section ’cause I really loved it.
Overall, I think this is a fantastic book for people who love incorporating items into play. It isn’t something I would say you need to learn how to play the game or you need in order to have, yeah, in order to have like, a foundational understanding. But if you want a lot of extras of really cool items, this is a great purchase. If you’re not into that, maybe not the book for you.
Navaar: I agree. I think like the, again, I love how the book is framed with our dragon friend and her little assistant. I love just all the inclusion of the artwork and all of the incredible items. I think it’s just a really good — like I said, if, if you are a person who is either a creative GM, or you want to be more creative as a GM, or a player who likes to just get into the shenanigans and you want to create that shopping list for your GM of like, “Hey, I love it if we can get this stuff in here and I can work towards either purchasing it or building it.” Yeah, it’s great. I think it’s one of those things that just like, it really for me, it immediately, I have so many inspirations already from this.
A lot of them came out in the podcast of just like, things like, “Oh yeah, I, you know, now we’re talking about this.” And so I really love that, what that does. I also agree, like, I think it’s context, right, of whether or not you quote unquote “need” this book. But I would say it’s definitely a great purchase, for either players or GMs for that reason, just because there’s, there’s so much in here to just inspire you and, and get you motivated to either create arcs for your stories or just, cool stuff for your group.
Esther: It’s full of really cool stuff. We didn’t even get into the Game Master’s Trove, which is like, literal items made by gods and terrible curses that you can enact. They’re really amazing. I think there’s just so much in here that seeds stories and really cool scenarios with your players, that seeds ideas for me as a player about characters I’d wanna build just from items or from like, magical tattoos. So I think it’s a great purchase if you like items and everything that goes along with them.
Esther: I highly recommend it.
Navaar: Absolutely. Well, cool. I think that does it for this one. Thank you all for joining us on this little Treasure Vault journey.
Esther: Where can we find you online?
Navaar: Me, you can find @Navaar, N-A-V-A-A-R-S-N-P on social media. I pretty much only use Twitter. Also @SecreNrdSocial for the podcast where I do other interviews as well.
By the time that this comes out An Unwavering Force will be unleashed onto the world. Follow us at @UnwaveringForce on Twitter. Go listen to the podcast. Listen to me be an absolute menace of a Jedi. Check it out. I’m not gonna say anymore, ’cause you gotta listen.
Esther: Check it out. I happen to have been in a position to get a little bit of a preview of the podcast. It’s gonna be so good. I’m so excited for this. Absolutely give it a listen. I’m very excited for it.
So you can find me @dungeonminister everywhere online that is a social media network that I am. And I am primarily on Twitter until such time as Twitter maybe doesn’t exist anymore. And —
Navaar: Right, so, four days from now?
Esther: [laughs] You can follow. Yeah. You can follow the show @KnowDirection on Twitter and other places like Mastodon and YouTube. And if you like the show and you wanna talk to both of us, give us some ideas, talk about what we had to say, come on over to the Discord. The link to that is in our Twitter bio, I believe. And we would love to have you there. We talk about the show, we talk about Pathfinder and other games, and lots of cool stuff. So come on by.
And yeah, I think that is where we leave you for this time. Thank you so much for tuning in.
Navaar: Yeah, thanks y’all.