Investing In: Howl of the Wild

Join a curious naturalist and his eccentric crew crossing continents in their fantastic airship, cataloging the world’s most fantastic creatures! Along the expedition, players will find new character options to bring their wildest characters to life, from new ancestries like the strong minotaur or magical merfolk, to awesome spells and ferocious archetypes, to new animal companions and gear forged from the scales and fangs of mythical beasts. GMs can look forward to a veritable menagerie to unleash on their players, containing animals, expansions on classic monsters, and never-before-seen creatures from every corner of the Age of Lost Omens campaign setting!1

A wild adventure indeed as Howl of the Wild is now available!  I was actually in Chicago for a big Salesforce conference with work last month, and each night once back at my hotel room I was reading through as I couldn’t not invest in this brand new book from James Case and team!  James kindly introduces us to the authors in this Paizo blog article.  I’ve been so excited for this book for a number of reasons, which I’ll get to.  Heck, even my players are like “when is it out?” for the wild implications for Kingmaker and my brother, playing an Ancient Elven Druid.  I absolutely adore the framing of this book like others before it utilizing an In Character voice, namely that of Baranthet Zamendi, an Iruxi naturalist.  You can learn more about him and his crew aboard the Zoetrope here on the Paizo blog.  They’ve some fun details and there’s a ton of lore to dig through too, but that’ll be next time.  First, let’s break down this amazing book that is going to make for a howling good time!

That first section is about the Zoetrope and its Crew, starting with Baranthet, but it eventually moves to cover a number of new Ancestries, all of which are at least uncommon with two being rare.  Starting with the uncommon, the Athamaru are fish-like and get a swim speed right out the gate.  They’re primarily found in Xidao in Tian Xia.  Xidao’s that underwater kingdom west of Minkai I mentioned in my first article on the Tian Xia World Guide.  Love that now we have rules to do a full on PC with them.  And they’re not the only underwater ancestry we get with Merfolk.  Shout out to Mikhail Rekun for the detail presented and learn more about Mikhail in this Presenting with John Godek!  It’s not easy for them to move around on land, but they can spend time out of water provided they return to aquatic regions every 24 hours.  There’s a feat to get them walking around with a 15’ move speed, but there’s other options too, which I’ll mention in Equipment!  Centaurs are a great addition, another helpful one for our Kingmaker campaign especially should someone lose a character.  Minotaur’s an ancestry I’ve always wanted to see and if I ever run a sequel to my favorite Dragonlance all Wizards of High Sorcery game, then I’ll need it.  Surki is the first of the new rare ancestries.  They are an insectoid humanoid base that reminds me of the Mondoshawan aliens (those big metal guys who had the key, Lilu, etc.) in Fifth Element.  They’re from the Darklands and they’re magiphages, drawing magic from the world around them.  They use it to project effects in various ways.  I love how the magical energy they most consumed in youth is the tradition their feats manifest as, giving them a bit of versatile flavor.  

But I’ve saved the best for last friends, it’s the second rare ancestry but one I bet we’ll see a lot of:  Awakened Animal.  Now we finally know what happened to all those animals Druids have gone around awakening!  Of course, it might have been the work of Fae or an enchanted spring that awakened your mind.  They get or rather retain an ability to converse with animals of their kind, using Diplomacy to interact with them.  The heritages are a perfect approach:  do you climb, fly, run, or swim?  The flying ones however have it a bit tough with a need to take a 1st level ancestry feat to actually have a fly speed rather than a simple ability to float.  The idea is that what was an automatic, intrinsic action now takes focus and concentration.  The never take falling distance of any kind is a pretty sweet benefit, and they do have to balance it somehow.  Also by level 9 you can have full flight of 25’ with a feat.  There’s so many entertaining and exciting awakened animal ideas, like what I have to assume is a bear turned investigator pictured below.

I meant to note that we start with some Special Rules to help with some of the non-standard aspects of the ancestries we typically play.  Need to play a PC of large size like a minotaur?  No problem, but make sure you understand how to squeeze in spaces.  Want to be a tiny little creature, like say a mouse?  Well now there’s rules for that equipment.  You’re maybe big enough someone can ride you like a centaur.  They do suggest that if a player really wants to play an aquatic PC in a predominantly terrestrial campaign, you either provide equipment to support or maybe some free feats with possible complications for story purposes.  I like the idea of the merfolk having feet unless it’s a full moon.  I suppose taking away their voice has been done before.  Flying details are much about balance like we discussed above.  Perhaps you want to allow only 15’ flight at first but that can trivialize some encounters or let flying PCs outshine others.  It seems wise to find a balance of additional ancestry feats for everyone, or maybe use the Ancestry Paragon optional rule.  Starting with two ancestry feats and picking up more along the span of the game could help find the right balance you want to maintain in a group.  I appreciate the foresight to have a short discussion of these considerations because it well supports players seeking options beyond the core.

The next section covers a wild array of Techniques and Tricks.  There are a number of feats for barbarians with the animal instinct or untamed order druids called Untamed Morphs.  There’s a number of reactive feats like Creature Comforts at level 4 that lets you reduce your frightened condition by 1 because you’ve spent so long amongst wild animals.  Or the level 16 Too Much To Swallow that lets you change shape as you are subject to some effect that you could Escape from (like being swallowed) and if you change into a shape too large to be subjected to that effect, you automatically escape!  There’s also new animal instinct options to choose from like Bat, Crab, Scorpion, and the Tyrannosaurus!  The Spider gets a Web attack that doesn’t do damage, but is a 15’ ranged attack that slow creatures.  Could be a great debuff.  Animal Form spell has a final paragraph too about new forms like Crab, Crocodile, Orca, and an adorable Seal.

We then move onto Warden Spells and other Ranger Options.  A few feats and focus spells.  The Natural Conduit is a good 4th level feat allowing the ranger to use their companion as the origin of their spell.  I want my wolf to heal my allies.  There’s a really great sidebar here about the “Wardens” of Nature, which greatly pertains to the Wardens of the Wild mentioned later, but I must resist until next article.  But yes, isn’t it interesting how often we use protective titles like Wardens, Guardians, Protectors…  One of the Warden focus spells is the threat of that power, 3rd level, called Threatening Mimicry.  I appreciate it only affects non-allied creatures within 10’ to frighten them with the perception of the warden’s growth in strength/size, and natural features like claws or poison.

Witches of the Wild get a few pages, starting with some new patrons like the Devourer of Decay.  It and the other patrons are unsurprisingly primal list patrons.  I love the kholo art (see above) decaying the meat, though I think we all know it could’ve well been a creature getting the Scrounger’s Glee hex cantrip cast on it.  That cantrip frightens your target, but also can heal an ally that critically succeeds at a strike against it.  Meanwhile your familiar causes sickened 1 to a creature nearby with less than half its hit points.  Definitely the key is focus fire with this patron!  The Ripple in the Deep’s familiar ability lets you summon a small sudden wave to push a creature 5’.  That could be useful for battlefield control.  Meanwhile the Whisper of Wings lets the familiar fly 15’ when you cast a sustain a hex.  New greater lessons exist for decay, flock, and shark.  Flock gets you Sheltering Wings allowing your familiar to move up to 30’ along with an ally that moves within 15’ of you.  The familiar goes along on their back and they get some cover from the brief wings that grew.  Great way to get your familiar into battle along with your front line!  A few low level feats are given too like Scatter Swarm, allowing you to damage any swarm that threatens your familiar.  It’s only level 2, but won’t come up too often.  Still the fact you can do it at will is pretty cool.  There’s also Portents of the Haruspex, which is a divine who reads the future through the entrails of animals.  This feat lets you do so just by reading a creature’s wounds.  And Wild Witch’s Armaments expands your Witch’s Armaments to do more damage with a second nail Strike, sicken with a critical hit of your jaws, or shoot your hair like quills at a range of 15’.  Those witches are wild indeed!

Bards get a new muse in the Zoophonic Bards section.  Yep, the Zoophonia Muse is focused on the sounds of the wild and natural world:  birdsong, wolf howls, and more.  The granted spell is Summon Animal, and makes for a perfect Disney Princess build, with the Zoophonic Communication as your muse feat.  It allows you to Request from animals with Performance like you shared a language, but you don’t get any ability to actually understand their responses.  So hopefully the animal goes right into performing the request, because a fair amount of perception is at play. You do also get to use Performance to command an animal instead of Nature.  Certainly your Performance will be better long term, but it’s not a huge benefit.  I’m a bit more interested in the 8th level Songbird’s Call that grants you a composition focus spell.  In a 15’ emanation, you call forth a wicked storm of songbirds to attack all in the area.  I read this and immediately thought of Snow White’s songbird attack from Shrek 3, sadly the worst of the Shrek’s bur it’s always going to be hard to beat Shrek 2, which is clearly the best.  Don’t agree?  At me on social media and let’s talk!  I do want to give Musical Summons, a 3 action 14th level feat, a mention.  I love the idea that you can cast summon animal and use a one-action composition spell.  With the right build you can get some powerful summons out while maintaining some compositions.  It really is Snow White calling her army!

Still under Techniques and Tricks, but next we get a number of Archetypes.  Eight of them to be precise and I’m particularly excited about one of them.  Beastmaster gets updated for Pathfinder2E and my brother has already retrained his Druid into picking up this archetype.  Of note, however, the main dedication feat and details are going to be in Player Core 2 so these are additional feats and options.  I love Pack Movement, an 8th level 2 action feat, that lets both you and your companion Stride and if you both come within reach of the same creature, you can make a melee Strike against it.  By 20th level, you can take Pack Takedown.  You and your two active companions get to each make a melee Strike against a target that all of you are threatening.  It counts as off-guard and provided more than one attack hits, you count the damage of all strikes in totality before applying resistance and weakness.  It may be 20th level, but it’s definitely the epitome of pack fighting!  The Clawdancer meanwhile is a cultural tradition of the catfolk of southern Tian Xia with nimble movements, most feats representing a single action or reaction.  By level 16 you can do a Storm of Claws with three actions.  You get to Strike three times, multiple attack penalty increasing as normal, but each time you hit get to Step.  It’s more dance fighting than whirling dervish and I love it.

Ostilli Host is very interesting, an archetype reserve for Surki though maybe a GM could be convinced to open it up for special circumstances.  It’s a graft, which I’ll get to more later, but it’s also a symbiote.  It’s not quite the Trill of Star Trek, but a plant animal hybrid that helps repair a node where the Surki is damaged while also granting other capable abilities.  The dedication feat alone lets you start to absorb magic with one action, increasing your AC and saving throws against the next magical attack, cantrip or spell that targets you.  It’s +1 at first, but +2 at 12th level.  However, you also get the one action Spit Ambient Magic to fire off a magical dart that does 1d6 damage, getting better at 6th level and then every 4 levels.  It’s a really cool archetype with many interesting feats.  If I was planning a Surki I’d be prone to take it, playing off a bit of a  magical Venom feel.  Many of the feats increase your ability to absorb magic or use that magic dart like the 10th level Spell Swallow.  Swarmkeeper is also quite appealing as you keeps a whole swarm, hive, or nest of insects to attack your enemies.  It lives within your body but when you have it Swarm Forth (for 2 actions) it is a bit like a minion, more that you sustain your focused communication with it for an action each turn.  But it can bite and sting for 1d4 damage, getting better over levels.  And that’s just the dedication feat.  At 12th level it can be made of death cicadas from the Mana Wastes that do terrifying mental damage.  Indeed the targets end up frightened too.  Oh and the swarm can fly too, so good luck pretty much everybody.

Next, we get the Thlipit Contestant.  This archetype also has strong cultural history as the martial art started as a wager between a group of bored Tripkees (formerly called Grippli) that I think we’re getting the Remaster update for in Tian Xia Character Guide.  Basically this martial art focuses on the prehensile nature of your tongue or tail.  The dedication feat makes it a weapon that does 1d4 bludgeoning with grapple and reach, even counting in the flail group.  Subsequent feats increase its ability or your use of it.  I like the reaction feat at 6th level called Snap Falling Fruit that allows you to help intercept projectiles from ranged attacks, offering +2 circumstance to AC for the target, possibly knocking it completely out of the air.  After watching X-Men 97 (watch it!), this made me think of Nightcrawler.  The Wild Mimic – yes I’m skipping one to do last! – is about being a feral fighter, learning from the deadly beasts of the wild.  This archetype makes me think of Blanka from Street Fighter including the 6th level Electrogenesis feat.  If you’ve seen a creature do electricity damage with an unarmed Strike you learn to generate a bit yourself due to your connection to primal magic.  It’s all observe and mimic, adapt sort of skills.  This could be a great archetype for a monk or ranger, or a combo.  Then there’s the Winged Warrior, an archetype you must have permanent wings to take.  They do point out this could be from a graft, and not just from an ancestry.  It starts by just letting you Leap farther and increase any fly Speed granting feats by 5’.  But there’s more such as Gusting Spell, letting you fly 10’ any time you cast a spell with the air or electricity trait as a single action.  You’re flying at sonic speeds by level 16 with the two action, once an hour, Sonic Strafe!  Fly twice and any adjacent creature takes 10d6 sonic damage!

But my fine friends and folks, it’s the four pages of the Werecreature archetype that I was drooling for, like a wereboar hungry for dinner!  Or maybe you’re a werebat, or werebear, or werecrocodile, or weremoose, or wererat, or wereshark, or weretiger, or of course… a werewolf!  You might have been born with it, or maybe it was Maybeline’s bite when you got into a scuffle at the bar.  Whether natural or afflicted, there are archetype feats through 16 to build the werecreature of your desire.  A nice sidebar gives you the speed, attack, damage, traits, and special abilities of your weretype.  Werebats can do some within the round flight (make sure you land or you’ll fall) and weresharks get to go amphibious in their hybrid shape.  Their animal shape has no land speed but they’ve the aquatic trait and a Swim speed of 35’ to go deep diving!  After we got feats for the undead archetypes, I’ve been itching for werecreature.  You can easily play your Ustalav-based campaign now!  Special shout out for that 8th level You Don’t Smell Right feat.  A scent ability to get a secret Perception check and notice transformed or impersonating creatures is a very useful, on point ability.  At level 16?  Well you’re a Force of Nature, gaining fast healing 5 when in hybrid or animal shape.  But watch out!  Silver is still very much a danger!

A few new Spells are included in general, mostly primal but a few are arcane, divine, or occult.  Do you want Camel Spit or maybe the Claws of the Otter?  Those claws even do cold damage.  Foraging Friends (above) is a level 1, allowing you to call forth a handful of small animals to help you collect food.  PRimal Chorus is level 3 and lets you howl out to the animals and beasts within 1 mile, alerting you to how many there are.  It’s a bit like a Commune with Nature in that you can send out some simple commands, but also get a bonus to initiative should you interact with any of the creatures who react to your call.  With the level 7 Summon a Stampede you call forth panicking beasts with a spell that has an Arrive and a Depart effect.  It arrives to frighten and departs with severe bludgeoning damage and destroying difficult terrain.  I love those kinds of spells.

We then move to the new section of Supply Runs: On the Importance of Proper Gear.  There’s an incredible amount of items presented, but first we start with new Animal Companions!  My brother had been eager to get some cool companion options and there are many!  There’s a flying squirrel who has a Death From Above single action double Strike attack.  Maybe you want a Giraffe?  An Elk is fitting for the forested wilds.  They suggest using it for a moose as well.  But what really caught my brother’s attention was the Shotalashu, which has existed previously even in the Alien Archive.  They’re the lizard-like telepathic creatures from Castrovel.  My brother plays an Ancient Elf from the Mordent Spire, eager to see their people changed, and this opportunity from “the elves back home” was something he couldn’t pass up.  They aren’t even Advanced Companions, which are included as well:  Giant Eel, Giant Frog, Giant Wasp, Griffon, Hippocampus, Hippogriff, Orca, Umbrella Mushroom, and then two more that got me so excited.  First there’s the Riding Tarantula.  My heart jumped for my Ev’etaewayr from Valiant.  Even the art included his riding spider due to the Wild West of Arcadia style Luis brought to the game.  Then, there’s the Roc.  A huge animal companion that is level 16.  It gets a two action Snatch, allowing it to Strike with a talon and then Grab.  If that Grab works, it gets to Fly up to half its speed, carrying that target away.  With 60’ fly speed, that could get increasingly dangerous for many creatures!  My brother has always wanted a cool flying companion too, but for now he’s let his second animal companion be a giant hawk that’s medium size while he rides that Sotalashu.  Friggin’ druids!

As we get into the more equipment side of things, we start with Grafts.  I had a PC – a red robed mage if you’re familiar with Dragonlance – who was focused upon summoning and grafts.  Earl did amazing with that character, inventing very cool spells as well.  Now you too can make Grafts with the Graft Technician level 3 feat!  You can get formulas for them or devise your own.  I have to imagine they’re popular in places like Nex but maybe parts of Arcadia too from the fictional text that starts the section.  Compound eyes?  Sure, level 4!  Gills?  Why that’s just level 8 and only 950 gp!  Full on wings?  Well those will cost you at 15,000 gp as a level 17 item.  There’s all manner of grafts available and I look forward to seeing what some creative characters do with them.  There’s numerous Beast Armor and Armaments as well, using parts of creatures for their equipment, which we’ve long seen for the Beast Guns from Arcadia.  I have to say, a lot of this also makes me think of Delicious in Dungeon, an excellent anime I’ve been watching.  Yes, they primarily eat monsters but they utilize all parts of the monster too.  It may just be the idea of seeing a Hodag used for leather armor (Hodag Leather) or the branches of a scythe tree turned into a Bloodgorger Scythe.  Might I mention both are in Kingmaker?  Interesting, and useful!  Oh and the Trollhound Pick has trollhound tusks in it!  There’s a really pricey Leydroth Spellbreaker level 17 available for 15,000gp.  It’s a +3 greater striking blunderbuss and can dispel once per day with a 30’ cone blast.  The Alchemical Items include animal pheromones to influence an animal’s attitude.  There’s a DC to resist depending how greater your pheromones are.  The Hive Mother Bottle excites me though, level 8, in that it has a shrunken corpse of an ankhrav hive mother within!  Open the bottle and she comes out to play!  A few mutagents and poisons round it out with the Tatzylwyrm’s Grasp catching my attention.  Again, Tatzylwyrms are featured in Kingmaker.  Thank you to whoever did this on purpose; I guess it does make sense considering the wild nature of Kingmaker.

The Adventuring Gear includes a number of new items.  The Animal Blind caught my attention as it’s the typical collection of poles, cloth, and covering to help hide you from an animal when hunting.  Or maybe from any creature when you’re hunting them.  A friend is playing a gunslinger in my brother’s game and he’s always setting up his deployable cover.  Perhaps the most important is the Supramarine Chair, “a wheeled, water-filled bath or tank” intended originally for merfolk.  It’s a wheelchair for aquatic folks.  THere’s also the heavier duty Land-delver’s chair that acts as a traveler’s chair.  I’m glad they created this as something that would’ve evolved on its own, though I expect most merfolk still prefer not to go up on land if they can avoid it.  The Big Game Siege Weapons are mostly mid to high level items meant for some large or larger dangerous beasts.  A couple low level items are given like the Teekdoon, which is like a portable catapult, and the Trapdoor Actuator which seems more like a trap as it’s a trapdoor that is placed on a wall and launches some sort of iron rod.  It does require 2 crew to run it, so it can’t be a standalone trap but I guess useful for protecting a high-cliffed location.  Finally, a number of new Spell Catalysts are added.  The highest level is the Kushtaka Relic at level 13.  I had to look up what a kushtaka is as this relic comes from a human who transformed into one.  These are useful for attacking possessing spirits with spirit blast, either helping the possessed do better on their next save or possibly – if they critically fail their Fortitude save – immediately banished from the body of the possessed.  I know some people scoff at consumables, especially the 525 gp for a level 13 catalyst like this, but they can add incredible valuable single-use effects to spells.  I might pick up a bunch of Alicorn Hair.  It’s level 1, 4 gp and allows you to target an additional creature with stabilize.  That can be incredibly valuable for just a few gold.

What an exciting assortment of ancestries, class features, archetypes, and more!  This wild ride is truly an exploration of what can be found out there.  I’m very excited for next time, where I’ll dig through the various fictional pieces and lore woven into this extremely enjoyable (and useful) book.  I’ll also go through the Golarion’s Menagerie as a number of creatures are presented at the end of the book, including the powerful Wardens of the Wild!  Until then, I suggest you pick up and invest in Howl of the Wild!  And of course Happy Pride!  No matter whom you are, you are enough and there’s no one set way for your life.  Be you, be good to others, and be happy!  Pride started as a riot by BIPOC individuals, so I also encourage you to remember we are not alone and many other groups deserve support and camaraderie.  Remember the intersectionality of our identities.  We are all connected, and the more we remember that, the better I truly believe this world can be.

Wild, right?

Investing In:

I wasn’t quite sure what to name my article series when I first started but the idea of showcasing or discussing things that make me excited, that I find new and interesting, or maybe I’m otherwise passionate about seemed to fit with the idea of Investing In something like the Pathfinder 2E mechanic. To use some magic items you have to give that little bit of yourself, which helps make these things even better. I like the metaphor of the community growing and being strengthened in the same way!

I also want to hear what you’re Investing In! Leave me a comment below about what games, modules, systems, products, people, live streams, etc you enjoy! You can also hit me up on social media as silentinfinity. I want to hear what excites you and what you’re passionate about. There’s so much wonderful content, people, groups (I could go on) in this community of ours that the more we invest in and share, the better it becomes!


Banner Howl of the Wild cover, Paizo, art by Wayne Reynolds

  1. Back cover excerpt, Howl of the Wild, Paizo
  2. Sailfish Merfolk, Howl of the Wild, Paizo
  3. Devourer of Decay Kholo Witch, Howl of the Wild, Paizo
  4. Witches of the Wild, Howl of the Wild, Paizo
  5. Zoophonic Muse, Howl of the Wild, Paizo
  6. Swarmkeeper, Howl of the Wild, Paizo
  7. Foraging Friends spell, Howl of the Wild, Paizo
  8. Grafts banner, Howl of the Wild, Paizo
  9. Supramarine Chair, Howl of the Wild, Paizo
  10. Awakened Animal (an Investigator Bear?), Howl of the Wild, Paizo

Rob Pontious

You may know Rob Pontious from Order of the Amber Die or Gehenna Gaming's first series of Monster Hearts 2. He currently writes Know Direction's Investing In blog as well as a player for the Valiant podcast and Roll for Combat's Three Ring Adventure. He's been a lover of TTRPGs for over three decades, as a gamer, and a GAYMER. You can find him on social media as @silentinfinity.