‘Pathfinder Player Companion: Blood of the Elements’ - RPG Supplement Review (Earth, Fire, Wind, Water, and . . . Suli?)

Water, earth, fire, and air, the four elements are ubquitious in fantasy. Wizards throw fireballs, a priest makes use of blessed holy water, the druid controls the winds themselves. The Pathfinder RPG has taken this idea a step further with playable races that are bonded to a particular element through the blood of genies. The Geniekin are beings born from the combination of a mortal race and a powerful being from one of the four elemental planes (a plane being sort of like a whole other world with its own specific rules.) Passionate and arrogant Ifrits represent fire, strong and stoic Oreads reperesent earth, agile and secret keeping Sylphs represent air, the aquatic Undines protect nature and represent water, and the charming Suli are beings with a flexible connection to the elements.

Blood of the Elements is divided into three sections. The first is aptly titled "Elemental Blood" and goes into details on each of the five kinds of Geniekin, detailing alternative ways they may have been given their abilities, common appearance, and personality quirks, what the life of an adventurer with that element type can expect, a few new traits, and some new set of mechanics for a specific class geared towards a certain element. The information contained here is enough to add a little bit of extra flavor to a Geniekin player character, although there isn't more than a couple of pages of space to talk about each. This feels limited in places and not all Geniekin feel created equal. The poor Undines suffer from severe Aquaman syndrome, the large bulks of the options available to them being 100% worthless unless your GM gives you occasion to swim often. The unique class features have to be the coolest addition to me, and I'm so glad they varied it up rather than expanding upon only sorcerers' bloodlines or something more universal for all of them.

Next up is an in-depth exploration of the different elemental planes. I've been learning quite a bit about Pathfinder cosmology lately, and the four elemental planes are a great addition. What kind of creatures live on a plane without ground or water but simply air? With an airship, of course! And, don't worry about gravity, it kind of does what it wants. What's it like when you're getting ready to pass through the border between one plane and the next? The connection between the Water and Earth planes may be rather muddy and filled with dripping caves, for instance. Each breakdown of a plane examines how a group of adventurers would get around and find means to protect themselves from the unique dangers of the harsh environments. This section also isn't fleshed out more than a few pages, but it provides more than enough fodder to get started adventuring in a place where the very air is ash and soot or every square inch is filled with water.

To date I haven't had much occasion to use Teamwork feats in Pathfinder, but the addition in the third section, "Elemental Commixture," provides a potent tool for two elementally themed casters to pool their resources. Elemental Commixture encourages casting in tandem with someone else and having the combined effect from the spells mixing to become something far more potent than it would on its own. For example, two casters combining a fire and water spell will get a blast of hot steam that can weaken and potentially blind a target.

One of the things I have to give credit to Paizo for is making these Player Companions as friendly to beginners as possible. There's some steep terminology barriers in Pathfinder, and this book takes the time to explain the most common terms, give an overview and guide on what each section of options could add to a character. The book's also chock full of indexes directing readers to elemental-themed feats, traits, and spells found in their many other books separated even by element for ease of use.

As I mentioned up above, Blood of the Elements' biggest flaw is it is too scattered. Covering the Geniekin, new materials for casters of four bloodlines, the elemental planes, and a new form of spellcasting is too much for a book not even 40 pages long. Each section felt like it could have easily been twice as long. There also wasn't any one thing in here that made me take notice and feel like, “I have to play a Geniekin next.” There are plenty of amusing and useful options in here, but the thing that got me most excited were the conversations regarding the elemental planes, which is more adventure fodder for the GM than the players.

Following up that, there's so much in any of these given books, even one the length of a Player Companion I thought I'd share the three things that entertained me the most from this supplement and I'd be more than happy to use in a game.

Kristine's Picks

1.) The Plane of Air: It might be that I'm secretly longing to play Savage World's Sundered Skies again or that I really like air ships (probably a little of both), but of the elemental planes described in detail, it was the Plane of Air that really appealed to me. The idea of roaming the open skies in an airship and exploring strange towns and cities floating in mid-air with these mysterious glyphed iron spheres roaming the skyways brought more than a few questions to my mind, and I'd love to get to play a scenario set here.

2.) Order of the Flame: A new Cavalier order built upon the arrogance of Ifrits, the Order of the Flame focuses all about a Cavalier's personal glory, not the serving of a master. There are a lot of neat things about this order, but my favorite is a unique form of challenge that allows an Order of the Flame Cavalier to get in deeper and deeper over their heads, adding to the Armor Class penalty in exchange for bonus damage, eventually getting in so deep good luck getting out undefeated. Pride goeth before the fall and all that.

3.) Snowfall Orb: An expensive, little magical item that's a lot like a potent snow glob. Not only does it protect one from some of those pesky fire spells, but with some concentration a snowfall orb can make it snow for several hours regardless of what the native environment is like. Can you think of a better item to bring out when spending time in a desert city and tromping through a rain forest?

For more information on Blood of the Elements and to pick up the book yourself, visit Paizo's listing of it on their website.


Four Gifts From the City of Brass out of Five

Last modified on Monday, 31 December 2018 22:32

Kristine Chester, Fanbase Press Senior Contributor

Favorite Comic Book SeriesAtomic Robo
Favorite D&D Class:  Wizard
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor:  Cookies N' Cream

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