Thursday, October 30, 2014

Occult Adventures Playtest: First Impressions

Yesterday, Paizo released the playtest document for Occult Adventures, the hardcover rulebook they will be releasing next Summer. This book will contain rules for more occult topics, like auras and occult rituals, give advice on how to incorporate such topics into your Pathfinder campaign, and introduces six new classes that utilize a new form of magic: psychic magic. 

Having read the playtest document and the six new classes, I thought I'd give my first impressions of each. Unlike the previous Advanced Class Guide playtest, my overall opinion is much more positive this time around. Each class feels unique, possessing interesting flavor, and really can't be replicated by an already existing class (with probably one little exception). Also, since I personally find the subject matter interesting, I was almost guaranteed to like this. Anyway, with that out of the way, let's take a look at the new classes: the kineticist, the medium, the mesmerist, the occultist, the psychic, and the spiritualist.

Kineticist
The kineticist possesses the ability to call upon her inner power to manipulate elemental forces and the world around her. The keneticist is the only non-spellcaster in the document. Instead, she receives "wild talents" that she can use and enhance by accepting points of non-lethal damage (called "burn"). While I feel so people will dislike the burn element of the class, I personally find it cool. This class is basically a bender from Avatar: The Last Airbender & Legend of Korra. If you ever wanted to play a character like that, you can do so now.

Medium
Similar to the shaman, the medium weals and deals with spirits. However, the medium performs seances that allow these spirits to inhabit his body, granting him unearthly powers for a price. This is a 4-level caster without a fast base attack bonus progression and has the possibility to be one of the most complicated classes in the game due to influence. Each medium knows a number of spirits (based on Harrow cards), which have points of influence over him. The more points that spirit has, the more power the spirit has over the medium. If their influence gets too strong, the spirit takes over the medium for a short time. The flavor for the class is great, reminding me of 3.5's binder. However, I feel like it still needs a little work because it feels a little weak at lower levels. 

Mesmerist
The mesmerist manipulates the mind of allies and enemies alike through the use of his hypnotic gaze, creating powerful illusions and enchantments with his psychic powers. This seems to be the "trickster" class for Pathfinder, reminding me of 3.5's beguiler. While you could mimic this class with some of the others, the mesmerist offers some neat abilities. For example, they can use an ability called "hypnotic gaze" as a swift action to give opponents 30 feet away a penalty to Will saves, making them more susceptible to his enchantment and illusion spells. Since I've been wanting such a class for awhile, I'm pretty happy and will probably be running one the next time I get to actually play. 

Occultist
I'll admit, it took me a few minutes to understand the occultist. The class utilizes objects of personal or historical significance, using them as implements for his psychic powers. The occultist seems to be a class built around psychometry (a psychic ability to make relevant associations from an object of unknown history by making physical contact with that object). I had trouble understanding the nature of implements, but once it clicked, I found myself loving this class. Its filled to the brim with flavor and I can already see so many interesting ideas coming from this class. It definitely has my approval. 

Psychic
The psychic is probably the most boring of the six classes. The psychic focuses on the power of the mind, allowing them to wield the mightiest of mental magics to crush her enemies and explore the deepest reaches of thought and consciousness. The class remains me of the arcanist, seeing as they possess a pool of points they can use to amplify and modify their psychic spells. However, it doesn't hit my "ban this sucker" button as hard as its slightly older cousin did. Also, the psychic's disciplines are pretty cool. One has your psychic power originating from aberrations and "malign entities that dwell in the voids between the stars." That statement just makes me happy inside. 

Spiritualist
The spiritualist is similar to the summoner. The class is forever bound to a phantom, which can reside in her mind or manifests in the physical world with a ectoplasmic form. However, unlike the summoner, you do not build your phantom from the ground up. Instead you select an emotional focus for the phantom, like anger or jealousy. Part of me wonders if this is a preview of the reworked summoner for Pathfinder Unchained. Seems interesting enough and could be pretty cool. 

Have you read the playtest? If so, what do you think of the classes? I'd love to hear your opinions and thoughts.