Review – Heroes of Golarion (Pathfinder)

You’d be excused for wondering what the thematic tie is for of Heroes of Golarion. But I’ll grant that “Player Options from all of the Continents of Golarion” just doesn’t have the same ring to it. And that’s what Heroes of Golarion delivers, hopping from continent to continent (with some other islands thrown in), providing a dash of new options from each area. The options presented in Heroes of Golarion span Arcadia, Avistan, Casmaron, the Crown of the World, Garund, Tian Xia, and Iblydos – and, following the standard model for Pathfinder Player Companions, the book itself spans 32 full-color, glossy pages.

Arcadia, which has a fairly ‘North America before Columbus’ vibe, gets feats that lets characters add some magic to gunfire and use guns even when they’re low on ammo and Jaguar slayer talents.

Avistan/The Crown of the World (mostly the Crown of the World) picks up the Speaker of the Palatine Eye bard archetype (occult bards), mesmerist tricks and feats enabling blind mesmerists, ‘heroic goblin’ feats (goblin + hero = pyromaniac Sarenrae worshiper), a unicorn sorcerer bloodline, and the frost spirit for shamans. The unicorn bloodline, which focuses on healing and protection, gives me a very Pathfinder 2E feel, given that class’s impending expansion into broader archetypes.

Iblydos provides a new oracle curse (with a table of random effects to roll on whenever you’re targeted by a divine spell), new witch hexes, a medusa bloodline for bloodragers, and a spiritualist archetype. Meanwhile, over in Casmaron, there’s love for shifters (an archetype and an aspect), spiritualists (archetype), and psychics (phrenic amplifications).

Garund draws the biggest page count. On the urban side of things, there are more Alkenstar guns and ammunition and a demolitionist archetype for the investigator. But there’s a lot more ‘natural world’ content, with vigilante talents based on a connection with nature/beasts, primal arcanist exploits, five new shifter aspects, a bloodrager bloodline, and feats that grant access to a magical beast as a companion (along with five options for such). A lot of the vigilante talents specifically interact with animals, but there are options to pick up low-light vision or a climb speed, which are the sort of useful always-on abilities that I’m fond of. Also being a fan of enhanced speed, the Horse shifter aspect is appealing, which freebie feats (Endurance and Run) and just being faster.

The final location visited is Tian Xia. The lion’s share of its page count is dedicated to new kineticist options (clockwork kineticists, toxin kineticists, elemental air kineticsts, and five new wild talents) and alchemist options (seven new discoveries). My personal favorite, however, is the phoenix sorcerer bloodline, which lets you heal with fire spells (I’m noticing a trend in the sorcerer’s here), automatically identify magic items, and eventually fly. There’s also the spirit eater archetype for the medium.

Additionally, Heroes of Golarion presents two rule expansions distinct from locality. There are mythic rules (Mythic Adventures) for occult character concepts (Occult Adventures). In addition to some flavor ideas about what it means for occult characters to be mythic, the mechanics consist of new universal path abilities and path abilities for the existing mythic archetypes, rather than trying to reinvent the wheel with brand new archetypes. Additionally, the Wyrwood (found in Inner Sea Races), who are living constructs built around ioun stones, gets two full pages of options – alternative racial traits, favored class options, and feats. One feat I particularly like is Magical Heart, which turns unarmed attacks imbued with Arcane Strike into hit point generators – a neat effect to guide what might otherwise be an unorthodox build.

Another theme running throughout Heroes of Golarion is a relatively high level of interdependence on Pathfinder Campaign Setting material, ranging from the hardcover supplements mentioned above to other small entries in the series (Distant Shores, Wilderness Origins, Inner Sea Magic) to adventure paths (Carrion Crown 2 -Trial of the Beast). Most notably, there are four legendary spirit presented as player options, calling back to Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Occult Realms. Altogether, Heroes of Golarion strikes me as an appropriate entry as we near the end of the first edition of Pathfinder. It isn’t a PCS supplement you’re likely to pick up out of the back catalogue because it covers a subject that’s of interest for a new character or campaign (such as me picking up the Harrow Handbook specifically because of an interest in making a character to use my harrow deck). Instead, it really rewards the diehard fan, spanning the more obscure corners of Golarion and building on concepts introduced in a variety of prior supplements.

Promotional consideration was provided in the form of a review copy.

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