Pathfinder Unchained: A Review

Deus Ex  
  • Crunch
  • Fluff
  • Artwork
  • Usefullness

Rules to Sate the Savage Beast:

The newest book for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game has been out for a few weeks and its time for our review.


This is the newest entry in their lineup of 256 page expansion books to the Pathfinder Roleplaying game and while fans of crunchy alternative rule sets may be loving it, those that are all about the fluff may not be that enamored. This book has a heavy Unearthed Arcana feel to me, and that’s not a bad thing, especially for rules tinkerer’s like myself.


The book is divided into only five chapters, in comparison to most of Pathfinder’s other rulebooks (not including the Bestiaries) that’s the fewest.


The first chapter focuses on a re-tooling of several of the core classes, namely the Barbarian, Monk, Rogue, and Summoner. The remainder of the chapter discusses alternative methods of leveling your characters with Fractional Base Bonuses and Staggered Advancement.


The changes to the Unchained Barbarian class, in my opinion, were changes that are needed. One of the primary differences in the new class is the switch to using Temporary hit points when using the Rage ability. The other big difference is switching some of the former rage powers to stances, these new stances take the place of old powers like Powerful Blow and Reckless Abandon offering constant bonuses as opposed to once per round or once per rage.  Due to the changes in how the Barbarian gains its Rage bonuses, they don’t gain quite as many hit points or hit quite as hard, but their survivability has increased substantially.


The changes to the Unchained Monk are significant and allows for a much more flavorful and unique monk than what was available in the past. The Base Attack Bonus progression has been brought in line with the fighters of the group and Flurry of blows has been improved as well, branching off of the dual wield train that they had been tied to in the past and just straight up given an extra attack at the highest Base Attack Bonus. They also get a Style Strike and more bonus feats to choose from.  Overall a good addition for monk players.


The Unchained Rogue also received quite a bit of love from this book. The addition of Weapon Finesse being a Class benefit and starting at third level their dexterity modifier is added to their damage with a selected finesse weapon. Danger Sense is also a nice bonus on top of the Trap Sense of the Rogue and the addition of several very useful Rogue Talents and Skill Unlocks make this a nice update to the old class that many thought was failing to keep up with its cohorts.


The Summoner gets a treatment of rules simplification with Pathfinder Unchained and injects a bit of flavor into your selected Eidolon, all for a bit of a hit in customizability.


If you looked only at the classes section of the book in Chapter One it’s already a good book, but if you’re a rules tinkerer like myself, this books offers some very nice alternative rules. From small systems that can alter how magic works or create new monsters, to larger systems that remove Alignment, redo the action economy, and alter the skill systems, there’s something for almost any GM.


There’s so much in this book that to review it all would take many many pages of writing. So, as a GM, if you’re not certain whether to pick this book up or not, it’s certainly worth the $10 for the PDF.

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