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Pathfinder Advanced Player's Guide Review

Hey howdy my friends, it’s time for yet another PAIZO REVIEW! Today we’re cracking into a very exciting new product for all you Pathfinder 2E fans: it’s the Pathfinder Advanced Player’s Guide! Stuffed to bursting with new ancestries, backgrounds, classes, archetypes, and more, this new supplement offers excited players a truly staggering number of customization options. Let’s dig in!

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One of the most interesting themes that you might find throughout the APG is that a lot of the new options presented here have the “uncommon” keyword. Nominally, this means that they’re only available to characters with certain prerequisites, but in most of these cases these options are character-generation choices. In this case, GMs will have to decide if the options are appropriate for their campaign.

Amusingly, there is a sidebar on the first page discussing this issue! Interestingly enough this sidebar mentions how some ancestries normally considered Common are only thus in certain areas of Golarion – the halfling and dwarf ancestries have an Uncommon keyword in Tian Xia, for example. That said, rarer toys are always more exciting – how soon do you think it’ll be before you’re in a group, organized play or not, where everyone at the table has an uncommon ancestry, background, or both?

Also the GM in me is eternally grateful to the writers for including a reminder to readers that while yes, your new and shiny character is unusual and outcast in the typical Pathfinder world, you still need to work together as a party. Honestly, some players need a little bit more reminder in that lane regardless!

Onto the ancestries! I won’t go into too much detail here – each of the ancestries and backgrounds are fairly well-balanced and usually have interesting and thematic ancestry feats, so I’ll be focusing mostly on what really sticks out to me. For example, catfolk (and who’s surprised that catfolk are the first new ancestry available, really?) have a few feats that functionally amount to “what do we say to the god of Death? mmmmmmeeeeeyooow!”

The Kobold ancestry provides an example of an interesting and exciting character option I want to see more of. One of their ancestry feats gives them critical success if they roll success on certain saves, but also critical failure if they roll a failure on the same saves. I love the risk-reward aspect to feats like this, and I want to see more of that going forward!

The APG also provides new options for the ancestry options in the Core Rulebook. Some of these options seem…more powerful than others? Dwarves, for example, have feats that let them either a) see in magical darkness or b) add a pretty consistent flat bonus to their melee strikes? One of these seems more useful than the other. Humans get access to a feat that just begs to be used for a “you and what army” scenario, and goblins continue to be my favorite thing in Pathfinder with the description they get for loud singing.

There’s also a whole new bevy of backgrounds to choose from, both Common and Rare to choose from. I have to admit I’m rather amused by the Barber and Cultist background from the Common section, and of course we have Amnesiac to complete the “OC do not steal” bingo board that the rest of the book fills out.

Let’s move on to the new class options! Investigators get a special shout-out from me because they are now officially the top dog when it comes to being the party skill monkey. They get a skill increase every level! Honestly, a lot of their kit seems like a big pile of GM-frustrating nonsense, and I can tell it will require more cooperation with said GM or else it will feel like a lot of your kit is less than useful.

The Oracle class is a perfect example of the risk-reward gameplay I was talking about earlier! In first edition, the oracle curse was a bit of a static partner that only got less and less present as you get more powerful. Here, the curse is the source of the oracle’s power AND the resource they spend to cast focus spells. More debilitating, yes, but also more powerful! Whoever was working on the Oracle was having a lot of fun and is doing some serious flexing as a game designer.

Here is also where we finally find the option for evil champions, or for those of us stuck in earlier editions, blackguards (or antipaladins). These guys are some pretty hard-line dudes, though, so I don’t see them sticking in anything other than an evil campaign.

Finally, the last layer of customization is Archetype, and the APG has plenty to choose from. Honestly, by the time we get to archetypes, I’m a little exhausted by the incredible diversity of options that come through combining this with the already-full Core Rulebook. That said I’m morbidly curious to see how ridiculous a campaign it would make to have a party that takes more than just one feat per customization option – like, several ancestry feats, class feats, archetype feats in addition to rather than instead of class feats, so on. That way lies madness. That way lies gestalt.

I’m very impressed by the Advanced Player’s Guide. Paizo packs a lot into the 265 pages of content here and nearly everything in here sparks interest if not excitement for a new character or build. Definitely worth your time if you want to make a splash at your next table.
 
Ben Reece

Comments



EthanSental

Adventurer
I’ve watched a few P2 streams and haven’t been sold on it yet. I find a few things I like and few I struggle with...makes it difficult to spend the cash on it yet like I did with P1.
 

Nilbog

Snotling Herder
I have massive problems with the APG, all of my players having seen the goodies contained within it now want to change their characters!
 

EthanSental

Adventurer
I have massive problems with the APG, all of my players having seen the goodies contained within it now want to change their characters!
Having not seen the core or this, is the change due to a few things out shining or overpowering the core stuff or just the appeal of something new?
 

willrali

Explorer
It's not overpowering core stuff as far as I can see. It's more there are a lot of cool options for players who want something 'out there'. Some people love non-demihuman ancestry options, and the APG has bird-people, cat-people, rat-people, orcs, and kobolds. The classes--Oracle, Investigator, Swashbuckler--are also definitively 'pathfinder' and less 'D&D' (the traditional classes are in the corebook).

The options for core classes more resemble what we see in the Xanathar and Mordenkainen books, though again, P2 has comparatively a lot of knobs and buttons to play with.

Frankly, it's a lot for GMs to know. But as a GM, I'm in the business of empowering my players, and I love the richness and texture it brings.

Edit: forgot the half-vampires. That got a lot more interest than I’d anticipated.
 
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Retreater

Legend
The APG release coincided with a TPK in my PF2 game, so some of the players were interested in trying the new content. Of course, they build their characters with the Archives of Nethys, so they usually don't even look at the book sources.
 

Nilbog

Snotling Herder
Having not seen the core or this, is the change due to a few things out shining or overpowering the core stuff or just the appeal of something new?
It's not the power creep, I'm sure there are more powerful combinations in this book, but to me they don't stand out. It's more the appeal of something new and the range of options it brings, I don't think my players were sold on the archetypes system until they saw the options available
 

Malkinban

The Torn
My P2 group and I are finally going to be getting our game back together, so we all ordered these from our LFGS. Really looking forward to it!
 

jsaving

Adventurer
I’ve watched a few P2 streams and haven’t been sold on it yet. I find a few things I like and few I struggle with...makes it difficult to spend the cash on it yet like I did with P1.
Our group adopted PF1e out of disenchantment with 4e and were initially very excited to see what PF2e would bring to the table. Some elements of PF2e turned out really well, like its action economy and its take on the sorcerer. However other changes brought back 4e innovations we'd strongly disliked, such as the elimination of 3e-style multiclassing to simplify the game and protect players from themselves. No thanks, if we wanted simplicity/protection we wouldn't have left D&D in the first place. Seeing a member of 4e's design team handed stewardship of PF2e going forward was the final straw for us.

We still play PF1e occasionally but have mostly moved on to 5e, which is more closely akin to what we think PF2e should have been. YMMV though and if you end up enjoying PF2e then best wishes and good luck with it!
 


Jimmy Dick

Explorer
The Advanced Player's Guide is the capstone piece to the original vision for Pathfinder Second Edition. The PF2 CRB was a whopping 640 pages and Paizo still had more content ready to go in it that they just could not release due to space issues. Everything that was left out was designated to be released over the next year in either the Lost Omens line of books or in the Advanced Players Guide. Things that were not quite fully fleshed out for the original release were then worked out. Four additional classes were put through a playtest and are featured in the APG; the Investigator, Oracle, Swashbuckler, and Witch. Five new ancestries are in the APG while three more were released in the Lost Omens Character Guide in 2019.

One of the new concepts in PF2 is that of Versatile Heritages. Instead of having separate ancestry categories for Aasimar, Tiefling, Changling, Dhampir, and Duskwalker, they are now what is called a versatile heritage. These modify the ancestry choice the player made for the character via the heritage selection. This is a very interesting concept as it provides many additional options for players. These five are just the first of multiple waves of versatile heritages which will be released over time by Paizo.

For those who have been desiring more options for characters, the APG delivers. The four new classes have their dedications for multiclassing along with 38 new archetypes. In addition, each of the 12 original classes gained some new options to choose from as did each of the original ancestries. Not all of the options are as viable as other options, but much of that will depend on the theme of a campaign and how GMs choose to allow players to select archetypes. I can envision some GMs designating some archetypes as free additional choices for players in that they can take one with no additional feat penalties because they give added depth to the campaign's theme such as the dandy or celebrity. Other GMs could emphasize select archetypes like the gladiator as a free archetype for their campaign's theme. The potential for some very interesting campaign themes definitely exists with these archetypes.

One of the things I was watching for in this book was the dreaded power creep. I do not see it present. None of the archetypes seems to overwhelm any of the original classes in terms of raw power while instead they augment them. This was a goal of Paizo from the beginning and it seems to have been met. The APG does what it was intended to do. It expands the options available to players at the initial creation of their characters and as those characters level up over time. Perhaps the best part of that is the APG continues to expand upon building characters as concepts and not as a collection of soulless numbers. While the numbers are important to determining how well a character can do something, the concept behind the character matters more. PF2 put the role back into roleplaying and the APG continues that vision.
 

Rhianni32

Adventurer
Having not seen the core or this, is the change due to a few things out shining or overpowering the core stuff or just the appeal of something new?
My group suffers the same and its not due to power creep as much as a lot of new options that weren't available with the core rulebook.
 

Rhianni32

Adventurer
No thanks, if we wanted simplicity/protection we wouldn't have left D&D in the first place. Seeing a member of 4e's design team handed stewardship of PF2e going forward was the final straw for us.

We still play PF1e occasionally but have mostly moved on to 5e, which is more closely akin to what we think PF2e should have been.
So your group feels that 5ed has the complexity of character building you are wanting while PF2 with its 900+ feats, and 90 some archetypes is too simplistic? Not say you are wrong for disliking what you dislike, just trying to understand the logic here.
 

jsaving

Adventurer
No I am not saying that. The problem with PF2e is not the number of archetypes and feats, which are high, but the limited ways in which you are allowed to combine them in the name of protecting you from bad multiclassing decisions. Adding more archetypes, which the APG does a nice job of doing, doesn't address that underlying problem and in some ways makes it worse by highlighting what is lost.

Put another way, 4e's decision to eliminate flexible multiclassing in the name of protecting players from themselves barely mattered because classes were so bland and generic that you'd rarely have a reason to multiclass anyway. Whereas precisely because PF2e offers such a rich background of archetypes, taking away 3e-style multiclassing takes a much larger set of interesting character concepts off the table in order to protect players who by virtue of having dropped 4e for PF1e have already showed they're not interested in being protected.

YMMV of course and I would add that there's a lot to like about the PF2e ruleset. Its action economy system is the best in the business, its sorcerer occupies a solid niche instead of being an afterthought like 5e's, and its bard was rethought in what our group found to be an interesting and compelling way. I'd add that the APG did a really nice job updating some of my favorite Pathfinder classes to PF2e and is well worth getting, even if like me you plan to use some of them in a 5e campaign rather than sticking to the overall PF2e ruleset.
 
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Malkinban

The Torn
No I am not saying that. The problem with PF2e is not the number of archetypes and feats, which are high, but the limited ways in which you are allowed to combine them in the name of protecting you from bad multiclassing decisions. Adding more archetypes, which the APG does a nice job of doing, doesn't address that underlying problem and in some ways makes it worse by highlighting what is lost.

Put another way, 4e's decision to eliminate flexible multiclassing in the name of protecting players from themselves barely mattered because classes were so bland and generic that you'd rarely have a reason to multiclass anyway. Whereas precisely because PF2e offers such a rich background of archetypes, taking away 3e-style multiclassing takes a much larger set of interesting character concepts off the table in order to protect players who by virtue of having dropped 4e for PF1e have already showed they're not interested in being protected.

YMMV of course and I would add that there's a lot to like about the PF2e ruleset. Its action economy system is the best in the business, its sorcerer occupies a solid niche instead of being an afterthought like 5e's, and its bard was rethought in what our group found to be an interesting and compelling way. I'd add that the APG did a really nice job updating some of my favorite Pathfinder classes to PF2e and is well worth getting, even if like me you plan to use some of them in a 5e campaign rather than sticking to the overall PF2e ruleset.
So instead of finding a way to make multiclassing work for you and your group you drop the entire system, a system you appear to think is superior to 5E in most other ways, in favor of a more limited overall system? That seems. . . drastic.

That question isn’t an attack, I just couldn’t find a better way to phrase it.
 

willrali

Explorer
Maybe it just didn’t click, and felt wrong in a way that 5e multiclassing didn’t? I personally use the GMG’s dual classing option in preference to archetypes, because it scratches the customization itch better.
 

Campbell

Legend
Not that there is anything wrong with being on the design team for 4e, but Logan Bonner did some design work on 4e supplements. He was not on the design team. He had also been working on Pathfinder design for like 10 years.

Not saying anything about the content.
 

Aldarc

Legend
Not that there is anything wrong with being on the design team for 4e, but Logan Bonner did some design work on 4e supplements. He was not on the design team. He had also been working on Pathfinder design for like 10 years.

Not saying anything about the content.
It's guilt by limited association, and I suspect the 4e-haters found a convenient scapegoat for their PF2 woes in Logan Bonner.
 

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