Gen Con is the biggest release week for Paizo. Last year, they released Pathfinder Second Edition (PF2), and the system has been doing very well ever since. In fact, we wrote a nice little article discussing the game after a year out in the world.
Even though Gen Con is entirely online this year, that isn’t stopping Paizo from continuing their tradition of using the beginning of August as their splash pad for new content.
This year, one of the many big releases is the Pathfinder Section Edition Advanced Player’s Guide! When PF2 was released, people were already clamoring for more classes. After all, there are more than 40 options to choose from in Pathfinder First Edition. The people want more!
Well, let’s just say that the people are getting what they want…and then some! Let’s take a look!
Let’s start with the juicy stuff: the four new classes! Players can now create an Investigator, Oracle, Swashbuckler, or Witch. Additionally, we also get some new options for each of the 12 classes featured in the Core Rulebook.
Investigators have keen senses and use their intellect to deduce and stay one step ahead of their adversaries. They can Pursue Leads and Clue In their party members with information on their latest investigation. They can also Devise a Stratagem, which essentially let’s you know your Strike value ahead of time when you attack.
Oracles are diviners of life’s many truths. Instead of casting spells from a divine being, they get to choose a Mystery in which their casting abilities are based. This also grants them the ability to cast Revelation spells. Unfortunately, these spells come at the cost of an Oracular Curse, which will progressively get worse unless you spend time clearing your mind through rest.
Swashbucklers use their nimble steps to fight with poise and panache. Often charismatic, they utilize their unique Style to dazzle and impress. Generally speaking, Swashbucklers are experts of combat, tapping into their confidence to increase their effectiveness on the battlefield.
Witches are powerful magicians who wield the power of their Patron. They also have a Familiar that aids in their spellcasting and learning; without it they would have no power at all. Never double-cross a witch; their Hexes are potent effects that can debilitate even the strongest of foes.
Overall, the new classes are all redesigned from Pathfinder First Edition, and they really do offer a nice variety of options for players. Oracles and Investigators are more my style, but they all have something that makes them feel unique.
The layout of the book, in general, follows the same format as the other Pathfinder Section Edition Books. I maintain that the Lost Omens series does the best with layout, by exclusively reserving a third of the page for extra notes while containing the main text on a maximum of 2/3 of the page. The Advanced Player’s Guide makes things easy to find with the telltale blue headings and red tags. The beginning of some chapters also has a little index for you to find exactly what you’re looking for by page number.
Archetypes are the way that players can multi-class in Pathfinder Second Edition. To do so, you must select the archetype’s dedication feat when you have an option to apply a class feat for your character. This is the key that grants you the ability to take the feats related to that archetype when you level up.
When I flipped to Chapter 3 of the Pathfinder 2E Advanced Player’s Guide, I was expecting to see a healthy handful of archetype options. I was definitely not expecting there to be 42 archetypes! Obviously I can’t speak about all of them, so here are a few highlights:
- Bastion: Defensive master who uses a shield to protect themselves and others around them. You can absorb more damage into your shields and prevent them from being destroyed.
- Horizon Walker: Most at home in the wilderness, they can magically adapt to many conditions that nature throws at them. Expert scouters and can traverse difficult terrain with ease.
- Mauler: Ferocious warrior who can dish out devastating amounts of damage at will. Maulers can strike out at multiple opponents, and even the earth itself to throw their opponents off balance.
- Scroll Trickster: A collector of magical scrolls, scroll tricksters can combine scraps of information to form scrolls of lower levels, and eventually create astounding caches of powerful scrolls.
- Snare Crafter: Kobolds. Just kobolds.
Multi-classing and archetypes are my favorite way to build characters. They offer so much versatility and give plenty of options when they progress to the next level. Pathfinder Second Edition offers an insane amount of flexibility for character creation, so you’ll want to check out these archetypes.
ANCESTRIES AND HERITAGE
Of course, what’s an Advanced Player’s Guide without additional Ancestries and Backgrounds? With this supplement, we get five new Ancestries to choose from:
Ratfolk and Tengu are my favorite of the five. I’m especially grateful of rules like Tengu always being armed with their sharp beak, and the Ratfolk/Ysoki Cheek Pouches. The latter is a carryover from Starfinder, and you’d be surprised what antics you can get up to by storing things in your cheeks.
More Ancestry options are always great, but what I was definitely more excited about are the Versatile Heritages. This is something that was indirectly present in First Edition, with Half-Elves and Half-Orcs. However, in Second Edition things are a bit different.
First, you’ll select your main Ancestry. Then, when you normally select your heritage from those specific Ancestry Heritages, you can instead choose a Versatile Heritage. The Advanced Player’s Guide introduces five of these, three of which are related:
- Changeling: Grants you the ability to select Changeling feats as well as feats from your other parent’s ancestry.
- Dhampir: Half living and half undead, you only benefit from negative healing, while being harmed by positive healing effects
- Planar Scions: Those who inherit supernatural essence from other Planes
- Aasimar: A Celestial descendant
- Duskwalker: Preservers of the natural life cycle
- Tiefling: Descendant of a demon, devil, or other fiend
Most of these Versatile Ancestries give you access to low-light or darkvision, and then access to their specific Ancestry Feats. Therefore, apart from physical appearance, choosing one of these isn’t necessarily going to manifest itself until later levels.
Most of the Level 1 Feats that you have access to right away are relatively low-power. You’re not getting access to Flight abilities or anything like that. From a game perspective this makes a lot of sense as you don’t want to destroy the game balance. However, I was hoping for a little bit more pop from the initial Feats.
The one thing Versatile Ancestries have going for it are that there are multiple Level 1 Feats to choose from. This means that your first level Tiefling isn’t always going to be the same as your neighbor’s. There are plenty of options for you to make your character your own, so chalk that up in the plus column.
Feats, Spells, and Items
The final three chapters of the Pathfinder 2E Advanced Player’s Guide feature new Feats, Spells, and Items. These options are on top of the class options present in Chapter 2 (Classes). Seriously, this book has so much content, it’s practically its own Core Rulebook.
I’ll highlight a couple of the entries that caught my eye, starting with Feats:
- Consult the Spirits: Ability to perceive minor, invisible spirits in a place.
- Doublespeak: Enhances Deception by saying one thing while meaning another.
- Risky Surgery: Inflict damage before Treating Wounds to get a bonus to your check.
- Skitter: Crawl up to half your Speed.
- Supertaster: You can identify the ingredients of food, including additives and poisons.
There are plenty of exciting Spells as well:
- Chameleon Coat: Give clothing and gear a chameleon property to assist in Stealth checks to Hide.
- Fungal Infestation: Blast targets with toxic spores, causing them to erupt in fungal growths
- Seal Fate: Foresee a target’s demise by inflicting a weakness to a specific damage type.
- Secret Chest: Hide a container in the Ethereal Plan for safekeeping.
- Threefold Aspect: Create three versions of yourself that you can switch between (young adult, adult, or elderly).
And what would an adventure be without great Items to loot?
- Bloodhound Mask: Usable only in Apex Legends. Oh wait…this actually just grants you the ability to track through scent.
- Forensic Dye: Find traces of a chemical or material, just like CSI: Miami.
- Ration Tonic: It’s a full day’s worth of meals in a single swig!
- Victory Plate: Armor emblazoned with imagery of your exploits, granting you bonuses in battle.
- Walking Cauldron: I mean, it’s right there in the name. It has a Speed of 25 feet, which makes it incredibly agile for an alchemical implement.
PF2E Advanced Players Guide: Parting Thoughts
If you’ve been enjoying Pathfinder Second Edition, the Advanced Player’s Guide is the next pick-up for your shelf. I’ve hardly begun to scratch the surface on the oodles of content in this tome, but so far I’m loving it. It does everything that a supplement should: introduce something for everyone. Some people will love the new class features, while others are going to gobble up the items and spells.
Congrats to Paizo for another hit; this is a staple for all lovers of Pathfinder Second Edition. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some Investigating to do! Grab yourself a copy here and join me!
If you’re in the market for more Pathfinder Second Edition content, I’ve completed a Class Concepts series for all of the base classes. You can also check out our Staying in Character series, where we build characters from pop culture, like Black Widow and the Mandalorian.
Disclaimer: Paizo provided Nerds on Earth with a pdf copy of the Pathfinder 2E Advanced Player’s Guide in exchange for an honest review.