The Pathfinder RPG's latest offering is an excellent addition to the game: a must-have. This book is very similar to the splatbooks that Wizards of the Coast (WotC) released for D&D 3.5, but without being confined to a small group of classes (and, frankly, without the garbage). The primary expanded areas are the addition of six new base classes, additional feats, additional class options, additional racial options, spells, prestige classes and combat options.

The class and racial options are primarily substitution-based. They work on the principal of swapping a power for another, in most cases. This feels a lot better to me than defining a new race that is marginally different and trying to shoehorn them into an existing campaign world, as WotC has done many times. As for the class options, the substitutions are usually a package. The Ranger is expanded by adding several new combat styles (which I love, by the way), for example. The cleric options are the addition of subdomains, which are easy to integrate becaus the existing domains each have 2-3 associated subdomains which swap domain powers. I've always loved the idea of customizing characters, and I feel this book really opens up possibilities.

The new classes are excellent. I admit that I am not crazy about the Alchemist, but the others are top-notch. The remaining additions are the Cavalier (a fighter-type with bardic powers, focusing on challenging single foes and inspiring friends), the Inquisitor (a deity-sworn hunter), the Summoner (class focused on summoning a pet; think World of Warcraft Warlock), the Oracle (a divination-themed spontaneous divine caster) and the Witch (a hex-throwing caster whose familiar is her living spellbook). I honestly could see playing any one of these and having a blast, particularly the Inquisitor and the Witch. These all have distinct roles, none of which seem to step on the toes of existing classes. Their power also seems in sync with the other PFRPG classes (unlike the classes in the WotC splatbooks).

The feats and prestige classes, while largely obligatory in a book of this type, avoid cheesiness. They expand the game well, and they make sure that the new base classes have the options the core ones were provided. Also of note are teamwork feats. WotC has offered these before, and basically, they are feats that are only useful when an ally has the same feat. I have always ignored these feats outright, but Pathfinder has made it so that two of the new base classes (Inquisitor and Cavalier) utilize these and either allow a player to grant use of one (a Cavalier power) or make so that your character acts as though your allies had the feat (Inquisitor). Without integration like these, these feats would largely be a waste of space. The prestige classes largely give advancement potential for new base classes, though some are the remaining PFRPG equivalents of the base 3.5 prestige classes (from the D&D 3.5 Dungeon Master's Guide).

All said, I feel this book was worth every cent. I fully expect to use some of these options the next time I make a Pathfinder character. This book exemplifies the PFRPG's commitment to quality gaming material, and I recommend it highly.

Growing Up Gamers