In my last review of Pathfinder, I covered chapters 1-8. This time, I’m just going to cover 9-11 because that is the last sections of the player portion of the book. Before I continue, though, I did want to point out something that I missed in my last review: the physical qualities of the book. The book is well bound with very high quality, thick paper. The printing is excellent and easy on the eyes, with a few rare exceptions. The fancy borders they put on all of the pages sometimes bleed into paragraphs, especially on the left-hand edge of the left-hand paper, which can make some words harder to discern. The usual “soda proof” glossy protection on the covers is also in place, which I’m very happy for. This glossy coating has saved a ton of my books in the past when an ill-timed mouthful of soda explosively merges with a well-timed hilarious joke or quip. You know what I’m talking about, right?
Now on to the rest of the player portion of the book.
Chapter 9 covered the basics of spell casting and the rules around how spells work. Again, the folks at Paizo did a wonderful job in clarifying rules, using images to depict exactly how spells work and making the whole process make more sense. I’ve been a role player for 26 years now, and these rules are some of the cleanest, easiest to read and most concise pieces of text I’ve ever read in an RPG. I think even the more junior members of my role playing group (and those adverse to reading the rules) will have a good time with this book.
Chapter 10 covered the spells. Did I read each and every spell description? No! There are 132 pages of spells! What I did, however, was to “spot check” the spell list. I started with the lists of spells at the beginning of the chapter. They are well put together and easy to read. The only problem I have with the list is the wizard/sorcerer spell lists are broken down by school before they alphabetized under each level. This makes quickly figuring out the level of a spell or skimming the spell list more difficult for people that are not used to how spells are broken down by school. I didn’t stumble through it much, but a total beginner will have a hard time knowing which school to look under for the spell he is trying to find.
For the several dozen spells (or so) that I read, the writing was well done and easy to understand. I came away from each spell listing with no questions about “What if?”, although I’m sure my group (and others) will come up with some that my brain is not. My only complaint about the detailed spell listings is the fact they chose to use a black background with off-white text for the spell name. While the black background clearly delineates one spell listing from the next, which is a good thing, it makes reading the text a little hard when you’re in a hurry. I don’t know of many people who casually read spell listings (though, I’m sure you’re out there.) Most of the time, a spell is being looked up in the heat of battle by both the player(s) and the GM at the same time in order to better remember how the spell works or to clarify some point. This means hasty skimming of the spell listings in search of a spell. The layout format Paizo chose for the spell titles inhibits this exercise just a slight bit. I know I’m being nit-picky, but when a product is as good as Pathfinder, you have to find something to gripe about, right?
Chapter 11 covered the prestige classes of the core Pathfinder system. These I did read thoroughly, and I am very impressed with the balance of the classes as a whole. Most of them are taken directly from 3.5 with some possible tweaks here and there with the exception of the Pathfinder Chronicler. This is an obvious addition to the list, and I feel it may be a bit overpowered as compared to the other prestige classes. Maybe this is just my first impression, and I could be wrong about that. The only way to know for sure is to talk someone into playing one of them. Heck, that someone might just be me. It all depends on what the rest of my group decides to do tomorrow night when it comes time to create characters.