Previously in this series we’ve looked at the setting and bloodlines for the Pathfinder adaptation Bloodlines & Black Magic. It’s a land of strange magics lurking just below the surface, dark shadows underlying familiar people and places. Today, we’re going to take a look at the game’s classes to finish up a profile on this modern fantasy game.
All classes in Bloodlines & Black Magic have increased capacity for magical abilities. They all gain feats called Pierce the Veil and Psychic Strike which allow them to see the true shape of things and empower attacks with their magic. This sets things up for the rest of the class info, actually: there are no fighters or rogues in this setting who possess no magic. Everyone’s got a little magic and the power slope in the campaign is steep, and there are class archetypes to create that effect as well.
Bloodlines & Black Magic uses a version of Pathfinder that they call O7, the most obvious characteristic of which is that classes only go to level 7. Why? Well, the idea is to make the focus on abilities and plots rather than chasing that next level. The shortened level track means that you’re always close to the top and the bottom of the power ladder, and that also means these classes are packed with abilities.
The classes used by Bloodlines & Black Magic are interesting adaptations. They aren’t the base Pathfinder classes but they aren’t wholly original either: the authors have borrowed this from SRD-compatible sources in the Pathfinder constellation of books in order to cherry-pick the types of characters that work with the setting.
The Brawler is the most straightforward of the classes, drawing mechanical inspiration from both the fighter and the monk, and it comes from the Pathfinder Advanced Class Guide. They have bonded weapons that they can call to hand with a gesture, but otherwise they just hit stuff and hit it well. Archetypes provided are the dark harvester (an arcane assassin) and the phantom fist (a ghostly fighter)
The Investigator, also from the Advanced Class Guide, is obviously a fine detective but the class also has abilities to craft poisons, use alchemy, and resist psychic influences. This isn’t just a private eye, even a magical private eye like Harry Dresden, the investigator a canny and resourceful traveler of magical roads who can withstand what he finds there. There’s only one investigator archetype provided, the occult librarian, but maybe there will be more released later.
The Mesmerist is the first spellcaster presented, and the class isn’t as simple as a wizard or sorcerer. They have as many abilities to lie and play tricks on the enemy, as well as the ability to create hypnotic bonds with allies that provide magical bonuses. Unfortunately, the source for these tricks is the Pathfinder supplement Occult Adventures and the tricks don’t actually appear in this book. Luckily for you, you can find this information in the Pathfinder SRD as well.
The Occultist is another class from Occult Adventures which you can find on the Pathfinder SRD. They function much like sorcerers (but more scholarly) with a strong focus on implements, which you can see more of in the link above. The consequence of this feels something like a witch or hedge wizard where you’re pulling out mirrors and prisms to power your spells and using tricks to do things that other spellcasters can’t. There’s one archetype for the occultist, the mad dabbler, who turns the occultist class into a wild mage with powerful implements.
The Psychic should be self-explanatory and, once again, it’s a class borrowed from the Occult Adventures book. Like an old-school psionicist, the Psychic uses a pool of points to use mental powers (spending points on a lot of little powers, a few big ones, or something in between) and they have discipline areas and amplification powers to ramp them up. In Bloodlines & Black Magic, every class has some psychic abilities so the real advantage here is their sorcerer-like ability to boost their powers. I think these fill a similar niche to the Nova in Masks: a supercharged character whose supercharging sometimes leads to trouble. The archetype provided for the psychic is the burning man, who pushes the nova-ness of the psychic to even more dangerous heights.
The Slayer seems like he would be the most exciting character class but it’s sort of the least magical option in a game with some amazing magical options. It comes from the Advanced Class Guide like the investigator and brawler, and is also available on the Pathfinder SRD. It plays a little like a version of the ranger who went all-in on the favored enemy ability so if that’s your thing then go for it but I think you’ll likely get tired of running at the enemy with a sword while your friends are spinning up crazy spells.
Lastly, the Spiritualist is someone specifically suited for dealing with ghosts and other things trapped between worlds. The Spiritualist originally comes from Occult Adventures and is a necromantically-themed spellcaster but more than that they walk around with their own private ghost! Called a phantom, this is like an ethereal familiar that continues to grow in power along with the spiritualist. There are quite a number of feats available as well which can turn your spiritualist into the center of a maelstrom of ghostly energy… if you’re into that.
Other Changes for Characters
For the modern setting, Bloodlines & Black Magic adds Computer Use, Craft (Chemical), Craft (Electronics), Craft (Mechanical), Drive, and a bunch of Knowledge skills to the characters’ skill list. There are also chase rules for vehicles, special B&BM feats, drawbacks and flaws, updated rules for languages, and loads of equipment.
The biggest other change for characters in Bloolines & Black Magic are the careers. Basically, a career is your day job and it offers you some skills and a means of gaining money to spend on your adventuring activities. As you advance in your career’s tier (basically getting promoted) which also gives you some additional abilities. This is a really neat mini-system, although some players might not want to play The Sims while playing Pathfinder, and it accurately shows balancing your “real” life with your bloodline life.
The authors have created a very compelling set of rules for a specific subset of the urban fantasy genre. It incorporates a lot of great inspiration from a lot of awesome sources to create something gritty and enchanting, sinister and exciting. Bloodlines & Black Magic is a game for any gaming group that wants to play majorly powerful folks pulling strings in a campaign setting that rewards clever thinking and planning more than throwing the right fireball. There are still fireballs, mind you, it’s just not as simple as kicking down the door. It seems like a great game that takes a lot of the best parts of Pathfinder and adds in a new modern element to create something new and exciting. If it seems like your kind of genre, I think you’ll find a lot of effort and skill went into the writing.