Okay, I was gifted this product as a review so I really want to dig in get deep, but before I get to actually reading it I’d like to take a look at the description again re-evaluate my relationship with the subject.
So Path of Shadows is about, er, shadows. It promises to give all kinds of new options for characters including a new base class all revolving around shadows, darkness, and other emo nouns. But really, why would I need this? I know it’s often difficult to stick to your gimmick with Pathfinder’s casting system but how hard can it be to make a character based on shadows and exactly how worthwhile is it to do that? Say I want to make Dhampir emomancer named… Drake. I want him to have cool and broody powers based on shadows and darkness because vampires. Its a common enough cliche concept that you expect to be supported so Drake will be my measuring stick.
I guess I’m a magic user, and I have charisma so I’ll go to the basic charisma casters first, Sorcerer and Oracle. And BOOM I already have a Shadow bloodline and I guess a Dark Tapestry mystery. Don’t need the book already. Although I can’t find all that many spells with the darkness descriptor. Maybe Black Tentacles counts, but not too much shadow going on. I guess there’s not much shadows can do. The shadow bloodline gives some cool powers but I’m a bit disappointed by the spells to support it. Maybe I do need this book. Its looking like Drake does if he wants his concept to be vivid. Well as of this sentence I have yet to read it so let me take a look inside to see what Drake can do.
After introductions, including a blurb about the low amount of shadow magic in the game, we get to chapter 1 and the new base class, The Nightblade. Its a general half-caster chassis. ¾ BAB, 6 skill ranks, 6/9 casting from it’s own list using charisma, good will and reflex saves. The class features are interesting and have some flavor to them. A lot of things are fueled by a ‘shadow surge’. Shadow surges are unlimited but you can only have one at a time and it takes a standard action to make one. You can spend the shadow surge on various other class features. It reminds me of psionic focus or maneuvers. There's a bit of teleportation through shadows and some extra surges among other abilities. Honestly there’s a lot here that I didn’t realise that I wanted to do. Its either a martial debuffer, illusionist or evoker depending on how you play your cards, and the shadow surge mechanic makes sure that you’ll never run out of interesting things to do. I’m surprised similar action economy resources aren’t in Pathfinder’s core rules. Nothing is overpowered but Drake is pretty happy. there’s enough shadowy things to do although you have to creatively describe some of the spells you cast. It is more than just an oogity boogity class but it looks like I can pump Drake full of cool abilities he’d like.
Chapter two gives us some new options for Nightblades and other classes, including a dew Advanced Class Guide classes. Alchemist, Antipaladin and Rogue win out on the cool factor here, other than that there's nothing to get too excited about unless you really want to run your darkness themes. The Nightblade archetypes are really nice though.
Chapter three’s feat list is short but to my surprise there isn’t one feat that I wouldn’t consider taking. There’s even some Wayang and Fetchling feats in there for you.
Of course there are a bunch of new spells all for shadow themes. and again I’m surprised as to how many I considered taking. This is really a book that doesn’t give much filler or trap options in terms of spells and feats.
The magic items are standard things. cool abilities but nothing people will pick up because they rely on specific things to maintain their builds but they look like cool abilities.
I would have expected the Nightblade to be pretty okay but its a pretty diverse class while keeping to it’s theme. The options for other classes are mostly take or leave but the spells and feat sections are really superb. I can also do way more with a shadow theme with it than I could without it. A lot more. I was skeptical about this product because I was not interested in such a narrow focus but it expands your options to a good degree and I don’t think Drake would be as cool as a character without it. I’ll give it 5 stars. It gives a lot of care for a subject that is neglected and does it in a pretty concise and well written way. I cannot wait to see what else Ascension Games pulls up next because this is a pretty dynamite first product.
[5 of 5 Stars!]