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New Character Options Abound in the New Paths Compendium (for Pathfinder RPG)

Pathfinder RPG has definitely redefined how “d20/3.5 style” characters are created and designed for many gamers. The use of archetypes to help reshape classes, and traits to further sculpt and define abilities, are just some of the features that makes PF RPG the game of choice for many tabletop role-players.

But not all the character option content available for Pathfinder has come from official sources. A notable number of 3rd Party Publishers have found their niche providing all manner of PF content for the PF RPG community.

Kobold Press has been engaged with the Pathfinder RPG community right from the start, and has been churning out a lot of new and unique content for gamers to use in their campaigns. One such product was released recently which opens up a huge amount of new character classes and options to aid in the creation of truly unique characters – it’s all in the New Paths Compendium (for Pathfinder) by Kobold Press.


New Paths Compendium (for Pathfinder RPG)

  • Designers: Marc Radle with Ryan Costello, Jr., Crystal Frasier, John Ling, Jr, and Jerall Toi; (additional design: Wolfgang Baur, Matt Blackie, Charles Lee Carrier, Chris Harris, Stu Logan, Nicholas Milasich, Mitch Radle, Vincent Colon Roine, Justin Sluder and Michael Timpe)
  • Illustrators: Marcel Marcado (cover); Bruno Balixa, Liv Hathaway, Jarrod Henriksen, Guido Kuip, RK Post,
  • Jason Rainville, Robert Scott, Hugo Solis, Christophe Swal (interior)
  • Publisher: Kobold Press
  • Year: 2014
  • Media: PDF (130 pages)
  • Price: $14.99 (Available from RPGNow in PDF format)

New Paths Compendium
from Kobold Press is a wide-ranging set of character options for Pathfinder RPG. These character options include 11 classes, along with 28 archetypes, to assist players in designing unique Pathfinder heroes. In addition, there are 20 new spells and more than 100 feats, which include a new scaling feat system and some firearms traits. Finally, the New Paths Compendium has seven tracking sheets for assisting in record-keeping and character maintenance for the classes and archetypes introduced in this compilation.


Production Quality

The production quality of New Paths Compendium for Pathfinder is very good, with excellent writing on the part of the designers, and a good-looking, easy-to-read layout. The font style is of a decent point size so that the content is not cramped onto the page, and header text is in oxblood red which stands out nicely on the page.

There are both PDF bookmarks and a table of contents in the New Paths Compendium, so navigation through the document is easily facilitated. Regretfully, the table of contents is not hyperlinked to the specific sections in the PDF, so the bookmarks are likely to be the main method to flip between pages. There are a reasonable amount of bookmarks in the PDF, however, it was noted that one classes archetypes were not specifically listed as were the other classes. This can be easily remedied by the reader, of course, but obviously should have been handled by the publisher.

The artwork and illustrations in the New Paths Compendium are a mixed bag of styles, some of which are more old school comic book art style, while others demonstrate a more highly-detailed fantasy style similar to what might be found in official Pathfinder RPG products. The front cover is colorful and dynamic, and features characters which typify those classes and archetypes found in the book. However, some of the artwork has been reused from other character option sourcebooks by Kobold Press, but overall the artwork fits with the content of the New Paths Compendium. The illustration-to-page ratio is a little on the sparse side, but the inclusion of tables and does help alleviate a wall of text feeling.


Knowing the Path and Walking the Path

A hefty portion of the content found in the New Paths Compendium (for Pathfinder) is actually a collection of an assorted Open Design and Kobold Press products previously released as character options. It would seem that the content from the Divine Options and New Paths series of products are gathered into this book, but there does appear to be some new content added in as well. But rather than being a “negative” feature, from the buyer’s perspective, creating this anthology provides the previously released content at a substantially reduced price-point.

The New Paths Compendium (for Pathfinder) is divided into six sections, and dives right into the content without preface or introduction. It opens by presenting the eleven new character classes – Battle Scion, Elven Archer, Halfling Sling Master, Dwarven Crossbowyer, Mystic Archer, Savant, Shaman, Spell-less Ranger, Skin-Changer, Theurge, and White Necromancer – compete with descriptions, class skills, class features, and advancement tables. Several of these new classes are quite unique in their play style, particularly the Savant and Theurge, which appear to be new classes not previously released. The Savant has an interesting play style in that he or she is a storyteller who can summon the prowess of the legendary heroes in their tales. This actually allows a player to have a character which can jump between roles – warrior, healer, damage dealer, scout – as is needed by the party. The Theurge on the other hand is a caster of both divine and arcane spells, gaining spell slots for each type of magic as they advance.

The next section of the New Paths Compendium covers Archetypes for the Battle Scion, Elven Archer, Gunslinger, Monk, Ninja, Shaman, Spell-less Ranger, and White Necromancer. Again, many of these archetypes were released previously, but they do provide a considerable amount of flexibility and options for a player to create a very unique character experience.

The Feat section in the New Paths Compendium is quite extensive, with over 100 new feats to choose from. Many of these feats are designed to enhance the new classes and archetypes from this product, although many would be quite handy for standard PF RPG characters. The new Scaling Combat Feats represent an interesting variant/optional feat system for the game. These feats scale as the character levels, granting them additional abilities as they advance, and are used instead of the combat feat chains – for example, the Two-Weapon Fighting (scaling feat) replaces the feat chain of Two-Weapon Fighting, Improved Two-Weapon Fighting, and Greater Two-Weapon Fighting. This frees up additional feat slots to allow characters to become even more diverse and unique, but obviously represent a shift in power balance that some GMs might find unwelcome. A table of feats is provided in this section for quick access and information.

The twenty new spells in the Spell section of this compendium are lumped together alphabetically without much style. The PDF bookmarks just lead to this section without giving bookmarks to the individual spells themselves. And without a table listing of spells by class and level, this section of the New Paths Compendium seems poorly edited and designed, even if the spells are interesting, and provide new content for the new classes and archetypes.

The new gear and magic items in the final section of the book has 16 mundane weapons, many of which are designed for monks and ninja, and some gear for archers and rangers as well. Regretfully, there are no illustrations for any of this new gear, so the reader will have to read a description for any idea what a Tamo Cane or Sun and Moon Rings look like. The five new magic items are geared toward the new archer and ranger classes, although the collar of beast armor would be helpful for druid and shaman companions as well. The Legendary magic item, called The Three Items of Gax the Great is a charming homage, and is actually a very potent set of gear at higher levels of attunement.

The end of the New Paths Compendium has some very useful sheets for tracking character information. Seven in all, these cover facets of classes such as animal companions, favored enemies and terrains, wildshapes, and prepared spells.


Overall Score: 3.7 out of 5.0


Conclusions

While the New Paths Compendium (for Pathfinder) presents both new and older content, it does represent a very nice anthology of unique character options for Pathfinder fans looking to try their hands at something new. Many of the classes and archetypes are quite interesting in their play-styles, very inventive in their design, and are backed by feats and spells presented in the New Paths Compendium. And despite some lacking in the organization of spells and interior illustrations, the book comes together fairly well as a compendium.

From a price perspective, the book is a steal! To purchase the individual character option books compiled in the New Paths Compendium would be about three times the purchase price of this Pathfinder supplement. Not a bad deal at all for a considerable amount of new PF RPG character building content!


Editorial Note: This Reviewer received a complimentary playtest copy of the product in PDF format from which the review was written.


Grade Card (Ratings 1 to 5)

  • Presentation: 3.0
  • - Design: 3.0 (Decent layout and presentation; there are a couple of poor editorial decisions noted)
  • - Illustrations: 3.0 (Nice cover art; decent interior illustrations; reused art here and there)
  • Content: 3.5
  • - Crunch: 3.5 (Very cool new character designs; some material compiled from other releases)
  • - Fluff: 3.5 (Pretty good fluff; good character building content)
  • Value: 4.5 (Exceptional price – you'll feel like a thief when you buy this… it’s a steal!)
 

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