Handy Haversack: Lost Omens World Guide Archetypes
The Lost Omens World Guide is here! The book is a must-buy for anyone campaigning in the core campaign setting, and the map that comes with it is a handsome addition to any gaming den or shop looking to help give players a frame of reference for their adventures. But the most exciting mechanical part of the book by far are the ten archetypes!
Each archetype in the book is viable for almost any class in core! One of the archetypes does require shield block, another expert training in unarmed attacks, and a third requires focus spells. But even if you’re playing a class that never gets focus spells, you can always find a second dedication that does to help qualify! Even if your GM bans the Red Mantis Assassin for being Evil and we limit each character to only a single devotion feat, the book expands the number of potential class combinations in the game from 132 to 235! And once you allow multiple devotion feats, the number increases exponentially.
But enough about potential character options. How do the new archetypes stack up?
The ultimate Skill Monkey archetype, letting members of any class become a significant contributor Exploration mode…or just giving a non-martial character Expert in Athletics so you can grab like a Monk. The dedication feat alone makes this a viable option, giving you Expert at level 2 and your proficiency bonus even on untrained skills (such as obscure Lore skills*). The feat choices are flavorful and useful, including a Trapfinding option, at-will Cantrip or bonus to Aid Another. Oh, and did I forget the mention the Dedication has a Skill Feat?! That’s right, you can complete your two Dedication feats using a Skill Feat, opening up a lucrative plot of design space!
*EDIT: You need a feat like Clever Improviser to use your skills for any Trained skill with this Dedication feat. I’ve also learned this won’t stack with Ecletic Skill or any other feat that let’s you add your level to your untrained skill check.
I wasn’t thrilled when I first read the archetype. The dedication gives you proficiency in Aldori dueling swords equivalent to your highest weapon proficiency rank,which is a really neat mechanic. But most players have been underwhelmed by the two-feat investment required to “Parry and Riposte”. But I’d argue that most players don’t realize the archetype makes a perfect Gish, giving an offensive reaction to even a Wizard or Cleric. Unnerving Prowess is going to do some fun things once we get more intimidate checks. And +2 to initiative is nothing to scoff at in this system!
Much like the old Prestige Class, the archetype is all about bulking up your defenses. Get some Damage reduction and your Dying Condition won’t lower. But the real jewel of the Archetype are the spell-like abilities. Enlarge and Meld into Stone are both fabulous options for non-casters, but I feel as though the Archetype doesn’t really come into its own until level 10 or 12 when you start empowering your Ka Stone with additional Spell-like Abilities. You’ll play a powerful character, and the flavor of the archetype is appealling for sure, but you’ll be giving up 7 class feats to get everything the Archetype has to offer, which seems a bit steep unless your a Human or Ancient Elf.
Red Mantis Assassin
It should come to no surprise that I love the Red Mantis. That being said, I wasn’t expecting the Archetype to be so dang cool. Yes, it requires Proficiency in Sawtooth Sabers and requires you to be Lawful Evil. There is so much lore regarding ex-Red Mantis assassins that keep their powers that this shouldn’t be a problem in most homegames, but I unfortunately doubt the Archetype will be legal in PFS. And while the Archetype looks super fun and I’d take it without hesitation, it’s not overpowered by any stretch of the imagination. Yes, you get 4th-level spellcasting at level 10, whereas a normal Multiclass Archetype has to wait until level 12. But a normal Multiclass Archetype gives you more spell slots and increases your proficiency beyond trained. For the same number of feats, you’ll also get 5th-level and 6th-level spell slots eventually. The Crimson Shroud is essentially +1 AC a few times a day. And Mantis Form gives you a more limited Insect Form as a Focus Spell. But getting higher proficiency in the Sawtooth Saber is the real reason to take the archetype, being one of the most powerful weapons in the Core Rulebook.
That being said, I might prefer to Multiclass Cleric of Achaekekekek instead.
You hate undead, because I hate undead. Let’s kill undead! In all seriousness, there is more to the “anti-undead” class than that. Reactive Shield alone makes the Dedication a fantastic choice. +2 to Initiative makes the Eye of Ozem ability incredible. Necromantic Resistance is perfect if you party with a negative-channel Cleric and find yourself getting caught in their blast. But most Bodyguards are going to love this Archetype for the Lastwall Warden ability, letting you use Reactive Shield to protect an ally!
Student of Perfection
This archetype is fantastic! It does require Powerful Fist or Expert in Unarmed Strikes, but it nets you the Ki Strike monk class feature and a focus pool, which means it’ll expand your focus pool if you are just looking to dip into the Archetype. The Perfect Strike feat let’s you use your Focus Point to reroll an unarmed attack roll, which I can tell you from the scenarios I’ve run will save many players from dumping their Hero Points to get that last desperate attack to land! The real reason you take this archetype is for the level 6 Focus Power, which nets you one of many elemental powers. Fire can suppress illusions on targets you hit (like displacement and mirror image). Earth nets you 15-20 temporary hit points. And water gives you something to do when your Multiple Attack Penalty gets too high: A single action to push an enemy with a torrent of water doing upwards of 4d6 damage! But my favorite? Unfolding Wind Rush gives you two strides in a single action into the air, leaving behind a Wall of Wind as you sculpt the battlefield to favor your party!
Huge flavor-win! I didn’t expect the Jatembae Archetype to be my favorite, but here we are. The archetype requires you have a Focus Pool, so it can be limited to only 8 classes, but is not impossible to qualify for as a Barbarian or Fighter using another Multiclass or Dedication Feat (like Student of Perfection). The dedication gives you your animal mask. The two notable feats in the Archetype let you gain the movement speed of your animal, or outright transform as per the Animal Form spell! The movement speed lasts 5 minutes and looks fantastic with the deer and it’s 50-foot land speed. The Frog is a promising animal for classes looking to get a whopping 15-foot reach at level 4, and will probably be my first choice. The only downside of the archetype is you have to spend some downtime retraining into a different animal if anyone catches sight of your true face or learns your name. So if you have a spiteful GM, look out for that. You can always retrain out of the archetype twice if the rest of your build is dependent on a specific animal, but it might be more worthwhile to retrain your other class feats and try something new in the unlikely event your cover is blown.
The dedication feat is for Hellknights that don’t yet qualify for the archetypes coming out later this year. You don’t need to take two dedication feats if the other dedication you want is a hellknight one, which is nice since I doubt many characters are going to want two of these feats. Now one is just a skill feat, but it’s a little underwhelming (you never critical fail Recall knowledge against devils). The Ardent Armiger gives you a second Will save if the effect would compel you to work against your Order. And Armiger’s Mobility helps reduce speed penalties from wearing heavy armor. Mortification gives you resistance to a specific type of damage equal to the number of Hellknight feats you pick up, the usefulness of which depends on your campaign and the usability of future Hellknight feats.
Like the Red Mantis, the Runescarred’s main schtick suffers from being slightly worse than Basic and Expert spellcasting for most characters. You get fewer spells known and spells per day using the Innate spells, but they do advance at a rate consistent with other multiclass casters. Your innate spells will always remain “trained” unless you get expert or higher spellcasting with another class. The ability to graft property runes on your skin seems pretty cool, but it’s really only relevant if you plan on fighting unarmored or use Polymorph effects, since you could just buy the property rune for your armor. The Runescarred has plenty of awesome flavor, and maybe if Kitsune Star Gems are written vaguely in this edition I’ll come back to the archetype. I’d also be more interested if you could heighten your innate spells. That being said, it’ll make for great NPCs when you have some specific spell you need to cast to complete a scene, but don’t want to spend more than a couple class features to cast it.
There’s a good chance if you’ve read my blog you’ll know I’ve always been a fan of the Lion Blades. At first I was going to rate this archetype significantly lower, as two of the five abilities require Crowds. But then I took a breather and reread the Lost in the Crowd ability. For the Lion Blade, it appears you only need ten creatures to count as a crowd! Most PFS games I play there are usually 6-8 creatures in a party, if you include summons and animal companions. Throw in 2-4 enemies and some narrow dungeons and ho-boy you got yourself a crowd! Being able to hide in the cover of other creatures makes your ability to consistently Sneak Attack considerable. Heck, plenty of times I’ve been scouting ahead and found ten or more creatures I could hide behind, if I wanted to eavesdrop before I returned to the party to tell them what I’ve heard. The additional movement speed is one of the best feats the archetype gets. And being able to Flicker for cover is the most ninja thing Paizo has printed for 2e. The dedication feat itself let’s you disguise yourself without penalty, but I’m not sure if that let’s you go full Mahou Shoujo like the art implies.
This book (and it’s map) is a fantastic addition to any collection. I’m hanging my map at my local Pathfinder Lodge here in Kent, and it’ll make a wonderful tool to help give my players some perspective on where their next adventure will take place! The archetypes themselves are oozing with flavor, and given the right options there are some really cool characters you can develop using them. I’ll leave you with my first feat tree, a Monk/Magic Warrior using the Frog mask.
Class Feats: 1 Ki Rush, 2 Magic Warrior Dedication, 4 Magic Warrior Transformation 6: Standstill 8: Tangled Branch Stance
You start off each combat turning into a Frog and using Flurry of Blows with your Tongue against any enemy within 15 feet! From that point onward, anyone who attempts to escape your froggy wrath will get hit by Standstill, and if you have other allies who need your protection you can throw up Tangled Branch Stance to help stop them from getting past you. Ancient Elf or Human can help give you additional feats. And Leshy can net you the Leshy Seedpod ancestry feat that you can combine with Knockback Strike to move enemies even further! But I will warn you, battlefield controllers have been known to make a GM hopping mad, so try not to croak!