Yesterday Rite Publishing released The Secrets of Tactical Archetypes II, a new sourcebook for the Pathfinder RPG. In the supplement you could find more than a dozen archetypes for different classes, which are mostly tactical teamwork or team support focused, bringing unique abilities and new options to characters.
There are many original ideas here, like shadow manipulating bards (with no bardic music), and magic disrupting sorcerers. In my opinion the supplement is pure gold in this regard. On the other hand some archetypes are have a problem : game balance issues.
I was happy to find out that there are several refreshing and original archetypes were included, which really feels like something new compared to the core classes. The already mentioned shadow using bard (Umbral Weaver) and the Peltast fighters (adept at throwing weapons) are a good example of this.
After reading through the book I’ve chosen several personal favorites myself. The highly protective Circle Warden (Witch) and the divine tactician Pious Sentinel (Cleric) are archetypes I would gladly enable to my players, and I would be happy to explore their possibilities. The Circle Warden for example replaces some of her abilities with protective hexes and abilities to defend and heal their team members.
But not every archetype as good as the above. Several of the new options are highly overpowered. Just to say some examples : level 5 Oracle gaining 2 spirit allies with 3d4+Cha bonus touch attack (and they could be summoned unlimited times per day), Druid replacing his single Domain for up to 4 Domains, an archetype receiving low level (4th) ability instead of high level ability, or the Peltast, which replaces a single feat with a very effective anti DR and anti AC power. Some of these powers are even more powerful at higher levels.
I think the most overpowered one is the spirit summoning Oracle, who completely gets out of hand at level 11. Then he could have 3 non-moving spirits with low AC and HP, but DR 15/-, displacement, and with 6d4+CHA ranged touch attack. And they could be summoned by a move action, so the Oracle could cast a spell or attack in the same turn. I guess this is a little bit much for a class ability which comes in addition to everything else instead of replacing another ability. And if you take on of the Revelations for the archetype they could use Dispel Magic instead of a damaging attack, which again is a little bit much for a move action.
As I mentioned at the beginning I have mixed feeling about this product. There are many very interesting archetypes (like the Pious Sentinel) which are very good, and I would use them cheerfully in my campaigns. On the other hand several archetypes are very problematic and I wouldn’t let my players to use them.
In the end I think there is enough good things here to give 3,5/5 points. I’m sad about this, as the excellent ideas would earn maximum points if presented correctly.
If you would like to take a look, the book is available for purchase at RPGNow.com here.
Zoltán “Cain” Mészáros