[Let’s Study] Pathfinder 2nd Edition, Part 3a: Classes from Artificer to Druid

Moving on with our Let’s Study series, we’ll be taking a quick look at the Classes made available in the Core Rulebook. I won’t be going into the nitty-gritty of the various class abilities (You can look those up over at the remarkably extensive Archives of Nethys) but I will give my first impressions on the classes. Today we’ll look at the first six classes in the game.

Alchemist

If you like guzzling down strange brews, or hurling volatile compounds at hostiles, the Alchemist is for you. Portrayed as a sort of Fantasy “Action Scientist” trope, the Alchemist is a colorful option that strays pretty far from the usual “serious” tone of Class that you find in 5e.

The Alchemist Class is further broken down into three “Research Fields”: Bomber, Chirurgeon and Mutagenist. As implied by their names, Bombers make stuff blow up, Chirurgeons forcus on healing and Mutagenists apply bizarre transformations on themselves of their targets.

Barbarian

At this point everyone has a general idea of what a Barbarian is, and Pathfinder 2e cleaves cough pretty closely to the stereotype. As a Raging warrior, the Barbarian sports beefy Hit Points and a Rage mechanic.

Where it DOES change is that the Barbarian has a chose Instinct. These instincts bestow abilities, but also restricts the Barbarian’s behavior in some way. For example, the Animal Instinct grants animal-like features for unarmed attacks (Like claws, horns, shark teeth, etc.) but disrespecting an animal of your chosen kind is considered Anathema. Doing so makes you lose the Instinct ability and feats until you spend 1 day of downtime re-centering yourself.

Bard

Ah yes, the Bard. Victim of a thousand Horny Memes. The Pathfinder 2e Bard starts off with a stronger focus on being a performer, and how they are able to infuse their performances with spells.

I was kind of hoping they’d do away with spellcasting as a feature of the Bard and just stick to the idea that Bardic Music is closer to Psionics, but I suppose that was a bridge too far. That said, the Compositions mechanic is neat in that you’re required to actually use the Performance skill when activating them. This heightens their effects.

Bards also pick a Muse. These are your sources of inspiration, and they grant special feats and spells based on the type of Muse the Bard aligns to.

Champion

The Champions are the Captain America of the Pathfinder 2e world. Devoted servants who have codes of honor that fuel their abilities. Those who break them lose access to their abilities, but that’s the cost of being a paragon of virtue.

Champions also have a Deity and Cause to well, champion. These also grant abilities, but further restrict your behavior so that you’re extra motivated to uphold being a living example of your faith.

Being tied closely to a Deity also means that the Champions gain Devotion Spells.

Cleric

More than the Barbarian, pretty much everyone is familiar with the Cleric. As a divine caster, the Cleric has their abilities tied to their Deity.

As such, they also are subject to some form of restriction. Clerics are restricted by Anathema, which are acts fundamentally opposed to your deity’s alignment or ideals. Committing acts that are opposed to your Diety means that you lose their favor in the form of class abilities. These can be regained only if you conduct an atone ritual.

To add a different take on the Cleric, you also get to pick a Doctrine. In the Corebook your options are a Cloistered Cleric, or a Warpriest. Each gets different benefits and serves to differentiate the type of Cleric who spends more time focusing on divine magic from those who perform more militant tasks.

Druid

Another spellcasting mainstay, the Druid is also pretty much what you’d expect it to be if you’re familiar with the Class from D&D. Drawing their magics from the powers of nature, they’re also subject to Anathema, though this time it’s more bound to their roles a stewards of nature, so acts like despoiling natural places will render them powerless.

What I found more annoying is that they have an Anathema on metal armor or shields… but not metal weapons. That doesn’t make sense.

Druids also have a Druidic Order, which seems to indicate that they’re a group of sorts, except they’re not really? You can ask really nicely and you can learn from druids of other orders. Regardless, the orders do affect mechanics as you get different spells and and feats depending on which Order you align yourself to first.

Thoughts

Pathfinder 2e Classes are pretty interesting but feel more like what happens if you take the D&D Classes and bring them consistently to the gym. They’re more aesthetically pleasing, but they’re essentially the same thing under the hood.

The introduction of the Alchemist class is nice, but unfortunately, “Mad Scientist” doesn’t quite feel like it stands up to the archetypes of the other Classes. I understand that they tried to show the flexibility of the Class with the Research Fields, but unfortunately it doesn’t quite match up with the sheer audacity of something like a Storm Druid who uses Summon Animals to hurl sharks at targets after hitting them with Tempest Surge.

I suppose I like my mechanics more tightly associated with the setting. The lack of actual Order politics involved in the Druid writeups was annoying to me, but I understand that this might not be the game for that kind of play.

That said, I do appreciate the work put into each of these. Building and playtesting and balancing these classes in a mechanical level is a staggering amount of work. So far, I liked the Champion writeup the best, with the Barbarian being a close second.

Let’s find out if the next six Classes are able to bring something more interesting to the table.


If you’d like to get a copy of Pathfinder 2e, you can get them over at the Paizo website.

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