Pacting in Pathfinder - The Pactmaker Handbook [3PP] [Under Construction]

Psyren

“Pactmaker?” What’s this all about?

This is a handbook for the Pactmaker (formerly called “Occultist”, before Paizo used the term for one of their psychic classes), which is a 3rd-party Pathfinder-compatible class heavily inspired by the well-known Binder from 3.5’s Tome of Magic. It can be found in the 3rd-party book Grimoire of Lost Souls by Radiance House, or you can read up on it by going to the d20PFSRD site.

Isn’t 3rd-party material unbalanced? Why do a handbook?

It’s certainly no secret that 3rd-Party Product, or 3PP as it is commonly known in the community, tends to have a dubious/mixed reputation when it comes to power concerns. However, there are plenty of examples of 3PP publishers that have managed to get the formula right - designing material that offers a different experience from the 1st-party Paizo line-up, that nevertheless fits in with it more-or-less seamlessly power-wise. We’ve seen it before with Dreamscarred Press and their excellent conversions of psionics, Tome of Battle, and Incarnum, and now we’re seeing it here with Radiance House and their well-done take on Pact Magic.

I wrote this guide because I’ve always seen pact magic as a fun and cool subsystem for both players and DMs alike, and the Pactmaker is a well-made and faithful conversion of that concept; not brokenly powerful, yet not disappointingly weak either. Most importantly (for me anyway) is that it successfully captures the feel of the ToM Binder. Pactmakers are brave - many would say “foolhardy!” - practitioners of forbidden arts , those who greet each day with a stick of chalk in hand, or perhaps some charcoal, or a brush and a vial of paint (or blood!) They then prepare to draw complex geometric arrangements that allow them to share their souls with a host of very alien and ineffable interlopers from beyond reality itself.  In exchange for doing so, Pactmakers gain access to an array of the disturbing, supernatural powers they command, while the entities themselves gain the opportunity to experience the reality to which they no longer belong through their Pactmaker’s senses. And while this form of magic is relatively easy to learn, practitioners must constantly struggle with these demanding entities for dominance over their attitude, mannerisms, and even their very appearance.  

The major appeal of this product to me, aside from the primary engagement of pact magic itself I described above, is basically the same thing that drew me to Pathfinder in the first place - the Pactmaker is OGL, i.e. completely and legally free to read and play. Now, anyone who wants to run a Binder-like class in their d20 game (PF in particular, naturally) can do so without spending a dime, and anyone who wants to cook up new vestig- excuse me, new spirits - for the class can feel free to do so using all of these great open mechanics as a springboard. (Of course, I do encourage you to buy the book/PDF, like I did - again, the material is well-crafted, and the fluff is fantastic too - but you can give the class a test drive simply by using the free materials on the PFSRD.)

TL;DR - if you liked the Binder class from 3.5 and always wanted to update it to Pathfinder, the Pactmaker may just be the class for you. Alternatively, if you’ve always wanted to give a Binder-like class a try in your d20 campaign but lacked access to Tome of Magic, now you have a totally free option that plays very similarly to how the WotC version did, and is greatly improved on in many ways. Either way, this class is definitely worth checking out and the book containing it is definitely worth your gaming dollar.

All right, I’m intrigued/you convinced me - where can I find the Pactmaker?

- You can take the class for a spin here. The spirits it uses are detailed here. 

- You can buy the book/PDF from Paizo here. (The old product pages - 1 and 2 - also had some clarifications from the designer on certain abilities, many of which made it into the final product.) Note that the book contains details (e.g. legends, and art) that the wiki doesn’t, so it’s worth the purchase!

- There was also a FAQ thread maintained by the designer here. As above, many of these made it into the final product.

Rating System:

Excellent: This is a must-have or at least very strong option. You’ll find it hard to go wrong with this.

Good: This is a strong option. A single or small handful of drawbacks hold it back but it’s still solid.

Average: This option performs well in certain circumstances and won’t hurt you to take, but be mindful of any downsides in the wrong build.

Poor: This is only situationally useful. You need a good reason to want this, and typically something else does it better.

Avoid: This option has few redeeming qualities, is inapplicable to most Pactmakers (i.e. likely intended for some other class or archetype), or is a trap option of some kind.

Contents

The Pactmaker

The Pactmaker’s Tier:

Note on Multiclass Pactmakers:

Chassis

Suggested additional skills:

Class Features

The Constellation System

Constellation Format

Angel

Beast

Dark Beyond

Dragon

Fiend

Hero

Mage

Noble

Seer

Scholar

Skull

Thief

Tree

Starless

How Binding Works

Pacting Process and Terminology

The Spirits (Vestiges)

Format

1st level

Achaelous, the Slumbering God (DC 16)

Aza'zati, the Green Wyrmling (DC 17)

Cave Mother, Sorceress of Secrets (DC 15)

Coralene, Sovereign of Silver (DC 15)

General Hessant, Patron of Lost Souls (DC 16)

Sevnoir, the Meandering Mastiff (DC 16)

Forash, Prince of Spirits (DC 17)

Marat, Guardian of Shields (DC 15)

Milo of Clyde, Detective of Despair (DC 14)

2nd-Level

Lady Jarah, Mistress of Many Faces (DC 19)

Mute Sylvus, Sole Survivor (DC 17)

Tyrant Cromwell, the Black Knight (DC 18)

Ubro, the Blind Hospitaler (DC 17)

Al’kra, the Operated (DC 16)

Humble Ohbai, Servant of the Elements (DC 20)

Lord Foxglove IV, Exchequer of the Stolen Purse (DC 17)

3rd-Level

Muse Istago, Painter of Paradox (DC 19)

N'alyia, the First Vampire (DC 20)

Vandrae, Drowess Poisontouch (DC 20)

Xalen D'Marek, Archivist of Fell Secrets (DC 21)

Cornelius Button, Gardener of Dreams (DC 18)

Obba, Ella, Atasha: Dark Sisters Three (DC 17)

The Nivea Nieces, Venomous Vixens (DC 17 or 22)

4th-Level

Fey Baraddu, the Beast in the Woods (DC 23)

Gulguthriana, the Glutton (DC 16)

Hexus, the Living Curse (DC 21)

Loh’moi, the Mad Geometer (DC 23)

Ethaniel Midnight, The Inquisitive Torturer (DC 21)

Jehotek, the Throne of Heaven (DC 21)

Kandisha, the Desert’s Revenge (DC 22)

5th-Level

Arturius, the Sleeping King (DC 23)

Dagon, Tentacles from the Deep (DC 25)

Dark Blood, the Rakshasa Princes (DC 24)

Vodavox, the Hive Mind (DC 25)

Circe’s Runes, Refuge of Pacts (DC 23)

Al’kra, the Operated (DC 17)

Al’kra, the Operated (DC 17)

6th Level

Demos Kalagos, Sworn Enemy of Time (DC 27)

Jayna Warlock, Traveler of Worlds (DC 26)

Serapith, the Scouring Light (DC 25)

Death Howls, Knights of the Ghostlands (DC 17)

Al’kra, the Operated (DC 17)

Al’kra, the Operated (DC 17)

Al’kra, the Operated (DC 17)

7th level

Mare Loviatha, the Ice Queen (DC 27)

Musha’Vadu, the Shadow-Bones Emperor (DC 27)

Portenta, Seer of the Orphic Eye (DC 28)

Al’kra, the Operated (DC 17)

Al’kra, the Operated (DC 17)

Al’kra, the Operated (DC 17)

Al’kra, the Operated (DC 17)

8th level

Essek Avix, the Twins Rejoined (DC 29)

Evening Star, Bloody Mist of the Hills (DC 28)

Young Kiros, Author of Sedition (DC 29)

Mana, Observer of Lost Magic (DC 17)

Al’kra, the Operated (DC 17)

Al’kra, the Operated (DC 17)

Al’kra, the Operated (DC 17)

9th level

Daeminthos, Crystal Eye of the Mind (DC 30)

King Mutaros, Vengeance Unfulfilled (DC 32)

Malebolge Moors, 13 Traitors of Hell (DC 33)

Al’kra, the Operated (DC 17)

Al’kra, the Operated (DC 17)

Al’kra, the Operated (DC 17)

Al’kra, the Operated (DC 17)

Occult Feats and Binder Secrets

Occult Feats

Builds, Spirit Combinations and Gear

Binder Archetypes

Pactmaker Archetypes:

Archetypes for Other Classes:


The Pactmaker

The Pactmaker has lots in common with a 3.5 Binder, but quite a bit is different too. This section will break down the class itself; I’ll also highlight changes between the Pactmaker and Binder (and follow my usual convention of noting upgrades/advantages and downgrades/disadvantages where appropriate.)

The Pactmaker’s Tier:

In practice, I think most Pactmakers will clock in around T3. They have a very wide range of abilities available, particularly once they break out of the starting levels and become able to bind/combo multiple vestiges together. Like the Binder, once they can fire off several major abilities in one fight, their power tends to rise exponentially and you’ll have much fewer of what I like to call “crossbow moments.” Also like the Binder, they make dynamite party faces, decent secondary casters and crafters, and outstanding gishes. They are sharply limited, however, by their long cooldowns and the number of spirits they can house early on.

Their potential power however is much higher; a handful of spirits/combinations are capable of game-breaking power at mid-high levels if the binder player goes all-out - though of course, the abilities of those spirits are benchmarked against similarly high-level spells and class feature. Because of these, I will say that the Pactmaker is capable of T2 if it’s allowed to go ham, particularly as it enters those upper-mid levels and beyond.

Note on Multiclass Pactmakers: 

As with 3.5, the fluff of Pact Magic is that it is easy; spirits are eager to experience reality again, and so convincing them to ride shotgun in you takes a lot less effort than dedicating yourself to a deity or studying arcane theories. (Well, it takes less effort once you know how to contact the spirit, anyway.) The Pactmaker however takes this a step further than the 3.5 Binder did - letting half your levels in non-binding classes count towards your EBL, similar to how Tome of Battle and Path of War classes work. For example: an Pactmaker 2/Fighter 3 has an EBL of 3 - two from Pactmaker, and (½ * 3 = 1.5 = 1) from Fighter. In addition, your EBL is a total of all your classes that are capable of forming pacts (i.e. binders.) In other words, these classes stack - so if the fighter above was a Warshade and you multiclassed into Pactmaker as above, you will have full binding progression, for an EBL of 5 in the previous example. I’ll cover more on this in the Archetypes and Sample Builds sections. This also means that you can have as few as 14 levels in a binding class and still make it to 9th-level spirits by 20. (14 + (½ * 6) = 14+3 = EBL 17.)However, you may want to hang in there for two more levels to 16, the level at which you gain your fourth and final spirit slot - this still leaves you with 4 class levels to hit +16 BAB and 9ths.

Anyway, let’s take a closer look at the big daddy of binding.

Chassis

Hit die: d8

BAB: ¾

Proficiencies: Simple weapons, light armor. (no shields)

Skill Points: 4 + Int. This is a notable upgrade over the 3.5 Binder, and you have better class skills too, both innately and due to PF’s consolidation. Skillmonkey is a role you can play (though you may need some vestigial backup to truly pull it off.) A better role for you though is party face; Pactmakers have all the necessary skills for the job built right in, including a Charisma focus, plenty of knowledge and even Sense Motive, and with time to contract the right passengers can get even better at it.. Of course, all the party goodwill towards those advantages will probably dry up quick the first time you end up under a spirit’s influence and something embarrassing happens, but hey, that’s why we’re here! Less intensive, subsidiary skill-based roles like “scout” and “loremonkey” are well within your grasp also. Knowledge-wise you get 3 of the big 4 just from your chassis, and have all the ones you need to perform Knowledge Tasks.

Class Skills: Bluff, Craft, Diplomacy, Disguise, Intimidate, Linguistics, Knowledge (arcana, history, planes, religion), Perform, Profession, Sense Motive Spellcraft.

Suggested additional skills:

These are great skills to pick up for your build if you can, and are worth a trait, feat, or possibly even a dip for that class skill bonus.

Handle Animal: A lot of your Vestigial Bonds are animal companions, which are stronger than familiars but cannot be commanded quite as easily. Your DM may require checks from this skill to make them do exactly what you want, and you don’t want to be caught with your pants down as a result.

Knowledge (Nature): The fourth of the “big four”, this skill has two major uses - spirits that let you shapeshift into natural creatures (e.g. giants, animals, plants etc), and spirits that let you summon such creatures (like Forash.). Many DMs will want your character to have knowledge of the creatures you wish to turn into or bring out - ; if your DM is one such, definitely drop a few points here.

Perception: It’s far and away the most-rolled skill in the game, need I say more?

Stealth: This is situational, but depending on the campaign you might need to fill in as the party rogue, or just sneak off somewhere secluded to form your pact; this skill will help you do that. In general though you should be relying on spirits (e.g. Coralene) to help you with this rather than investing in it yourself (though of course, no reason you can’t do both.)

Use Magic Device: You’re Cha-based, so there’s no reason not to get this. Pactmakers can make decent crafters too with the right feats (particularly the Pact Effigy binder secret), so this will let you use many of the toys you can now create. In addition, several vestiges grant you an (improved) familiar, which can hold various items and use your skill ranks - thus, investing in this skill will let your spirits activate magic items on your behalf, effectively doubling your actions.

Craft (Alchemy): This is a class skill already, which is good news for you. I wanted to call it out here though so you know it can be a good idea to drop a few points in here if you can spare them. Some of the Spirits require a concoction of some kind either as part of their ceremony (e.g. Vandrae or Jayna) or as one of their totems for a quick bonus to the binding check (more on that later), and this skill can save you some dough if you plan on pacting with those spirits a lot. Also, Pathfinder has a lot of really nice alchemical items you can make with this skill, many of which can be useful to Pactmakers in the field, e.g. a dose of Shadowcloy so you can pact with N’alyia or Sevnoir at any time of day (or just conceal your heathen behavior from the rest of the party), and/or a tanglefoot bag for when a key vestige ability is recharging. That last bit isn’t necessary by any means, but it certainly won’t hurt either if you can spare the time/cash.

Class Features

Bind Spirits (1st): This is the class feature that lets you form pacts with Spirits, this system’s version of vestiges. I’ll discuss the details of the process further (including any mechanics changes) in the “How Binding Works” section. Unlike Binders however, you start the game with just a single spirit known by default; there are several ways to get more, most notably via Knowledge checks, which your “Occult Knowledge” class feature is designed to help with (see the “How Binding Works” section) but it is not automatic, and may require talking to your GM in advance as there can be a time cost associated too.

Constellation Aspects (Su, 1st): Each spirit in the system is associated with a constellation - in a nutshell, this is simply a common theme possessed by a given subgroup of spirits. For instance, spirits hailing from a dark or devilish background would likely be found under the Fiend constellation, nature-themed spirits would probably be under Tree or maybe Beast, and bookish spirits would be found under Scholar or Mage. Spirits under a given constellation might share some surface-level elements, but it mostly serves as a way of categorizing them for other binders. (For the most part, Pactmakers themselves don’t really care what constellation a spirit uses, other than the Aspects available perhaps gravitating them towards a specific one that has an ability they need.)

A constellation aspect is an extra minor granted ability you can add to any spirit by making a good pact with it. These have been buffed considerably since their first iteration and are now on par with low level spells or entry-level domain/school powers. Better still, since they are considered a minor ability from the spirit, it means that many of the vestigial companions (see Terminology section) get to share these powers with you. For more detail on Constellation Aspects and the powers they grant, see the “Constellation System” section below.

Occult Knowledge (Ex, 1st): Pactmakers need diverse avenues of study to track down the spirits they need. This class feature gives you an untyped bonus to some major knowledge skills (Arcana, History, Religion, Planes) equal to half your level, minimum 1. If you’re attempting to fulfill a spirit’s knowledge task, this becomes equal to your level instead - thus as you gain levels as a Pactmaker, grabbing earlier spirits becomes easier and easier.

Pact Augmentation (Su, 3rd): Similar to the Binder ability of the same name, you can gain your choice of additional minor buffs each time you form at least one pact. Unlike with the Binder, you can no longer choose the same augment multiple times (unless specifically noted, and many of the ones that do let you do this have a limit on how many times you can take them). To compensate for this, many of the augments are a bit stronger than their 3.5 counterparts, so that only getting them once and needing to spread out isn’t so bad, but do keep this in mind. You get these every 3 levels now - 3,6,9,12,15,18 for a total of 6, with the last one coming in prior to the capstone unlike the Binder..

The list of buffs (along with minimum level and number of times you can take it) is as follows:

Dodge (3rd, 1x): +1 dodge to AC. This of course applies to touch and CMD too, so it’s not awful, and it does stack with other dodge bonuses which is nice. But it’s also numerically weak (and you can lose it while flat-footed no less, unlike the Binder’s insight.)
Fortitude (3rd, 1x): +2 to Fort saves. This is already a good save for you so it isn’t a priority, but more fort is never a bad thing either.
Initiative (3rd, 1x): +4 to initiative. This is equal to a decent feat and also stacks with it, making it a strong choice.
Reflex (3rd, 1x): +2 to Reflex saves. As this is your weak save, an untyped bonus is definitely welcome, especially early on when hit points are at a premium.
Toughness (3rd, 1x): 1 hp/PM, as the feat. Middle of the road.
Will (3rd, 1x): +2 to Will saves. See Fortitude - however, Will is slightly more important for Pactmakers as it can help them stave off the consequences of a bad pact (and thus protect their other saves if they need to ignore an unruly vestige.)

Accuracy (6th, 3x): +1 to attack; despite the name, it adds to your damage rolls too. Gish Pactmakers will love this, and being untyped, will stack with bonuses provided by the more martial spirits. You can grab this one up to three times (at 6,12, and 18.)

Fleet (6th, ∞): +5ft to all movement modes. You need this 6 times just to equal a haste spell. There are far better choices.

Skills (6th, ∞): +3 to a skill (or skills) of your choice. There are lots to choose from. This can help your PM be even more of a skillmonkey if that’s what the group requires.

Fortification (9th, 3x): 25% chance to ignore critical hits and sneak attack damage, like the armor property. This can be taken 3 times (max 75%) and does not stack with armor.

Invulnerability (9th, 2x) You gain SR 6+PML. Taking it again makes this 13+PML. At the level you get this, SR 15 isn’t much (an equal level caster only needs to roll a 6 or higher to affect you, i.e. 25% “miss chance”) so if you want this at all, be sure to take it twice for the full 60%, or don’t bother.

Resilience (9th, 5x) You gain DR 1/-, stacking up to 5 times. Just no, don’t bother. (Not sure how it even stacks up to 5 if you don’t get it until 9…)

Binder Secrets (2nd): These are feat-equivalent abilities that help set the Pactmaker apart as the ultimate binding class. These enable PMs to use pact magic in unique and powerful ways. One of these also allows you to pick up a Pact Feat as your Secret, so this doubles as a “bonus feats” feature for the Pactmaker if you prefer. I’ll cover these further in the Occult Feats and Binder Secrets section.

Bind Additional Spirits (Su): Starting at a whopping 4th level (as opposed to the original Binder’s 8th!) Pactmakers can start binding more than one spirit. The frequency with which you can do this is also accelerated - you gain another every 4th level after that (as opposed to every 6th, again) to a maximum of 4 spirits at 16th level. (Compare to the Binder’s progression of 8,14,20.) This means that you’re going to get to 3 spirits in many games, and you can even get all the way to 4 well before the campaign ends.

Note however that this ability has now been decoupled from the base Bind Spirits ability; in other words,  a multiclass Pactmaker now needs a minimum of 4 levels in the Pactmaker to ever have a hope of binding more than one spirit, and binder archetypes generally do not gain this ability at all. (They do, however, typically have other class features they can use instead of multiple spirits.)

Since you max out on spirits at 16th level and your EBL will continue to progress, consider dropping out after 16 to pick up something else (e.g. a martial class) to get you to 16 BAB, 9th-level vestiges, and 4 vestige slots.

Constellation Mastery (Su): This ability lets you get the constellation aspect of your bound spirit(s) automatically, without raising the DC of the binding check. This is nice but by the time you’re this high up, very few of the constellation aspects matter anymore, and if you really want a certain aspect’s power, you could probably just have used one of your vestige slots to bind a lower-level spirit from that constellation, easily clearing the increased DC to unlock the aspect you need.

Spirit Mastery (Su): Choose 4 spirits when you gain this ability - you gain a +1 untyped bonus to the DC of all the granted abilities of those spirits. This is nice, but the even better benefit this gives you is that you can forego the bonus to ignore the consequences (i.e. Influence) of a poor pact with them. If there’s a couple of spirits (particularly high-level ones) whose abilities you find yourself relying on regularly, but whose influences can spell disaster, be sure to choose them here.

True Augmentation (Su): This is the capstone - a powerful ability that lets your spirits continue functioning in an AMF, provided that (a) you make a good pact and (b) the AMF’s caster level does not exceed your EBL. You can also 1/spirit/day immediately reset the cooldown on one of your spirits’ major abilities. This can give you substantial nova potential with the right combinations and is certainly worth staying in the class till 20 for, but in most games this of course won’t see use.

The Constellation System

As I briefly mentioned earlier, Radiance House added constellations as a new element to their Pact Magic system. In a nutshell, a constellation is a thematic grouping of several spirits; each one has allies or enemies among the other constellations as fits their theme. For instance, Noble has lawful/orderly leanings, and so opposes the chaotic/slippery Thief. As far as the spirits themselves are concerned, this celestial rivalry doesn’t actually affect Pactmakers much in practice – Pactmakers are skilled enough binders to form pacts with whichever spirits or combination of spirits they please, regardless of any celestial politics that may exist.

 

Rather, Constellations have four primary purposes:

 

Restricting Other Binders: There are binding-related archetypes for many existing classes in Grimoire of Lost Souls, including some for the Pactmaker itself. For the most part, these archetypes allow these classes to pact with spirits (usually in exchange for various class features, or via inhibiting or even removing their spellcasting.) However, these archetypes also typically face an additional restriction on the spirits they can bind based on constellation, such as being forced to choose one or a handful of constellations with which to align themselves, or being given a small list of constellations to choose from and being restricted to spirits in that list. This restriction can be hard (no chance of binding outside your allowed list) or soft (you can bind spirits outside your list, but at reduced power - ½ binder progression in most cases.) In either case, you will typically be barred from the enemy signs of your chosen/allowed constellation(s) completely. I’ll cover more on these in the Archetypes section.

 

Constellation Aspects: By making a good pact with a spirit, you can choose an “aspect” from among the powers granted by that constellation, and make it an additional minor ability granted by that spirit. Aspects can be supernatural or SLAs and tend to have power roughly on par with early domain/school powers or low-level spells. They are typically either constant, or usable 3+Cha times per day. As with all granted abilities, your CL = your EBL, and their saving throw DC (if any) is 10+ ½ EBL+Cha, even for the SLAs. Finally, you cannot select the same aspect more than once (though you can select the same constellation more than once, if your bound spirits that day allow,  gaining additional aspects from the same one.)

Constellation Focus: This great Occult feat increases the save DC of all spirit granted abilities under a particular constellation by +1, and increases your binding checks with those spirits by +2. Once you know who your favorite spirit (or set of spirits) is likely to be, this is a good feat to take to help you land those checks and stick their granted abilities. It also stacks with other DC boosters like Spirit Focus and Ability Focus to make a caster Pactmaker’s saving throw DCs truly terrifying.

 

The main takeaway here is that, for the Pactmaker, constellations aren’t terribly important to worry about - but you should probably pay attention to who is what anyway, because some of the abilities these grant (particularly at low levels) are both very useful and easy to overlook. These ratings will be made with that in mind.

Here’s the format:

Constellation Format

Overall Rating: Summary of the constellation’s worth relative to the others.

Allies: Supporting constellations. Usually not important for Pactmakers.

Enemies: The opposing constellation. Usually not important for Pactmakers.

Minimum Level: The lowest EBL at which you can bind this constellation’s aspects (along with the name of the spirit you need to access it.) As of Grimoire, every constellation has a 1st-level spirit, but it may not be one that you want to bind even if the constellation powers are nice.

Minimum DC: The binding DC of the lowest spirit you need to hit (i.e. “make a good pact with”) to get an aspect from this constellation.

Aspects(*): The list of abilities you can choose from when you make a good pact with a spirit associated with that constellation. Some aspects (marked with an asterisk*) function as an additional physical sign (e.g. Dragon’s vestigial wings or Fiend’s horns) that you can suppress or conceal as normal; since you only get the aspects from making a good pact, suppression is always an option, though if you do suppress the additional sign you lose the benefits of the aspect as well.

Angel

Rating: Okay. Angel’s aspects can be useful, but suffer from low scaling and all being SLAs.

Allies: Scholar, Tree

Opposes: Fiend

Minimum Level: 1 (Eos Dei)

Minimum DC: 16

Aspects:

Beast

Rating: Good. Beast is invaluable for natural attack-using  Pactmakers, and its ability to issue complex commands to your Vestigial Bonds is useful even if you’re not.

Allies: Dragon, Fiend

Opposes: Scholar

Minimum Level: 1 (Sevnoir)

Minimum DC: 16

Aspects:

 

Dark Beyond

Overall Rating: Good. Dark Beyond has powers that are relevant when it shows up, and that stay useful at most levels. Pity its starting spirit is a turkey, but binding it is very easy at least.

Allies: None

Opposes: All

Minimum Level: 1 (Vishgurv)

Minimum DC: 13

Aspects: 

Dragon

Overall Rating: Okay. Dragon’s AC bonus is nice to have and its ability to save you from falls is useful at most levels. The breath weapon’s abysmal range practically puts you in melee though.

Allies: Beast, Thief

Opposes: Hero

Minimum Level: 1 (Aza’zati)

Minimum DC: 17

Aspects:

Fiend

Allies: Beast, Skull

Overall Rating: Okay. Fiend’s abilities are largely weak except for that sweet gore attack. Produce Flame isn’t bad at low levels though, and Fiend’s entry spirit is one of the stronger ones too.

Opposes: Angel

Minimum Level: 1 (Forash)

Minimum DC: 17

Aspects:

Hero

Overall Rating: Good. Hero’s abilities are useful even for a non-gish, and your party will love you too.

Allies: Noble, Scholar

Opposes: Dragon

Minimum Level: 1 (Marat)

Minimum DC: 15

Aspects:

Mage

Overall Rating: Good. Mage has helpful powers at all levels, especially if your party is lacking a dedicated arcanist.

Allies: Noble, Skull

Opposes: Seer

Minimum Level: 1 (Cave Mother)

Minimum DC: 15

Aspects:

 

Noble

Overall Rating: Okay. Noble is at its best when you’re bossing people around. Bane and Spurn Blows are weak though.

Allies: Mage, Hero

Opposes: Thief

Minimum Level: 1 (Hessant)

Minimum DC: 16

Aspects:

 

Seer

Overall Rating: Okay. Seers powers won’t blow you away, but they can keep you on top of things.

Allies: Thief, Tree

Opposes: Mage

Minimum Level: 1 (Dantalios)

Minimum DC: 16

Aspects:

 

Scholar

Overall Rating: Good. Scholar’s skill-based abilities are handy even after the initial levels, and its initial spirit is a relatively easy bind.

Allies: Angel, Hero

Opposes: Beast

Minimum Level: 1 (Milo of Clyde)

Minimum DC: 14

Aspects:

 

Skull

Overall Rating: Okay. Skull’s abilities are a mixed bag, with one standout.

Allies: Fiend, Mage

Opposes: Tree

Minimum Level: 1 (Gwenolyn’s Ghost)

Minimum DC: 15

Aspects:

 

Thief

Overall Rating: Poor. Thief fittingly has some sneaky powers, but nothing that will steal your heart (heh).

Allies: Dragon, Seer

Opposes: Noble

Minimum Level: 1 (Coralene)

Minimum DC: 15

Aspects:

 

Tree

Rating: Okay. At low levels tree can give you decent melee or ranged options, but it suffers from weak scaling.

Allies: Angel, Seer

Opposes: Skull

Minimum Level: 1 (Achaelous)

Minimum DC: 16

Aspects:

Starless

Allies: None

Opposes: None

Minimum Level: 1 (Jacques Gaston)

Minimum DC: 17

This is not actually a constellation - Starless spirits represent the ones that don’t belong to any of the categories above. These spirits grant no Aspects at all, putting them at a disadvantage relative to their peers, and they’re also harder to research (+5 to all Knowledge Tasks.) However, the upside is that non-Pactmakers can bind Starless spirits even if they are restricted to one specific constellation, giving them additional options. For Pactmakers they are almost all downside, at least in a vacuum; the individual powers of their spirits may very well be worth your trouble anyway.


How Binding Works

As Binder players and their DMs know, one of the riskiest - and conversely most exciting - aspects of pact magic is just forming the pact itself. It’s a unique minigame whose outcome can have all kinds of unforeseen effects on your character, the party, the session, and even the campaign as a whole. If you’ve played a Binder in 3.5 you’re probably familiar with most of this; you take a minute to draw a funky circle on the ground (at least 5ft in diameter) using some material that will stay visible once you finish. (Chalk is most common, but ink/blood/paint, and even scratches in soft dirt etc. all work just as well.) Once you’ve done that, you get inside it, and you get the spirit’s attention somehow.

Before I get to the Spirits themselves, there are several key differences between the 3.5 and PF pact magic systems to cover first.

Spirit Levels: Spirits now go from 1st to 9th level; I feel this makes comparing Pactmakers to spellcasters much easier than in 3.5 as you have more of an “apples to apples” evaluation based on what full spellcasters are doing (or at least capable of) that level. Also, if you stir in the 3.5 vestiges (not that you need to!) you’ll get a slight acceleration to acquiring some of them. You can also, should you wish, limit a Pactmaker’s power by slowing their progression to cap out at 6th or even 4th-level spirits, making for a grittier campaign - though I personally don’t feel this is necessary either.

Spirits Known: In 3.5, Binders learned how to pact with every vestige their level allowed them to bind. Grimoire of Lost Souls instead starts Pactmakers with only a single spirit known, and learning how to bind more requires other avenues of study. The most common of these is by completing that spirit’s “Knowledge Tasks” i.e. a series of 4 separate knowledge checks, as described below,

Knowledge Tasks: These are the player-driven way of learning new spirits -  checks a binder must complete to learn a new spirit.

Prominent: This is the way Binders worked in 3.5 - Pact Magic is well known (at least, to groups that study esoterica anyway, like scholars, eccentric mages and various religions) and, particularly among that latter group,  it is generally  actively decried. This instills a healthy fear of binding in the common folk. Despite this, the seals that power spirits are widely disseminated and easily uncovered by those who can use them. Pactmakers in a Prominent setting begin play knowing every seal up to their maximum level, and learn all new seals as they level automatically.

Rare: Lore on Binders does exist, but the common or less educated observer is likely to mistake them for another form of spellcaster. Pactmakers know a decent amount of Pact Magic lore but not all of it, and must conduct research or (potentially dangerous) exploration to discover more seals. Pactmakers under Rare Pact Magic know 4 1st-level spirits, and gain knowledge of an additional seal at each level automatically, plus they can learn more from their travels or study at DM discretion.

Scarce: Binders are barely known to anyone. Perhaps it is a brand new form of magic and you are among the first to discover the enigmatic spirit world; perhaps there was a great purge and lore on pact magic was largely excised from the setting, but it is now generations later and beginning to seep back in. To many churches, pact magic is all-but unknown except as rumor (though still decried as heresy even so.) Pactmakers under Scare Pact Magic begin play knowing a single 1st-level spirit’s seal and must discover more through research and exploration - they get no others solely from levels.

In all three cases, you have no limit on your maximum seals known; in the latter two, however, the DM gets to decide exactly how you commit more to your memory; it may involve research, study, employing divinations of some kind, or even just trial and error. Regardless of which method your playgroup goes with, the key here is communication between the player and DM to set expectations ahead of time so everyone can have the most fun.

Now that we’ve covered the differences, let’s talk definitions.

Pacting Process and Terminology

Spirit: The entities that give you power - for a price. These were called “vestiges” in 3.5, but that name is apparently trademarked. This is my guide though, and I really like the term, so I tend to use them interchangeably throughout (including other forms of those words, like “vestigial” and “spiritual.”)

Ceremony: This is how you call the spirit. Whereas in 3.5, you simply said the vestige’s name out loud and maybe cajoled it a little, Pathfinder’s pact magic requires a little more conviction on your part. Each spirit has a unique mini-ritual called a Ceremony that you must perform within its seal to get its attention. Note that some of these require materials (like bits of leaf, or blood, or food or candles etc.); unless specified to be something valuable or unique, you are assumed to have the necessary items so long as you have a spell component pouch. There is however a clause about “items that cannot feasibly fit in the pouch”; in the spirit descriptions below, I note which ones are most likely run afoul of this issue and ways around them, however a permissive DM will likely let you handwave more or less anything without a listed cost.

Manifestation: This is mostly unchanged - the spirit/vestige appears once the ceremony is performed, as an illusory effect (a figment, to be exact) that cannot be harmed or interfered with. Other beings, if they are nearby, can see and hear it - though only the binder can negotiate with it, as before. One key change is that, if a pact is not made, the spirit can linger within its seal for up to minutes at a time. This is in contrast to 3.5, where a vestige will vanish within 1 round if not addressed. So if you, say, start to form a pact but have to hide for a little while as a patrol goes by, or you  get ambushed while forming your last pact and need to take down your aggressor or something, you can return and resume your pact without starting over from scratch, provided not too much time has passed. Another change is that spirits can actually cease negotiations and leave you with nothing at any time before a pact is made; the book emphasizes how rare this is since spirits yearn to experience life again (like vestiges do) but it does allow the spirit a way to return home if you simply call out to it and sit there.

Negotiation: As before, gaining the spirit’s boon requires a binding check. Succeeding results in a “good pact,” while failing results in a “poor pact” - the ramifications of each state will be discussed in more detail below. Pacts last for 24 hours before they must be renegotiated, though there are ways to both prolong this arrangement or cut it short. The mechanics of the pact are harder now - 1d20 + ½ EBL + Cha, instead of full EBL as in 3.5. Making matters worse are that the DCs are for the most part unchanged, so you will have to roll well to avoid the influence of many spirits. This is balanced out a

bit by the higher number of +Cha races in Pathfinder; in addition, there’s a few other factors that can give you an edge in pacting to boost your check, such as using totems (discussed below), being a favored ally (also discussed below) and various feats. Finally, the DM can still give you a circumstance bonus for good roleplay as well, so polish those acting lessons if that’s your thing. The lesser contribution of EBL to your checks makes Cha more important to binders in PF than it was in 3.5, though that’s okay since they can get more mileage out of the stat too. Once a negotiation is complete, the seal and manifestation instantly vanish on their own - blowing away in the wind, getting absorbed into the earth etc.

Constellation: Every For Pactmakers this tells you which constellation aspects you’ll get to choose from if you form a good pact. For every other Binder, it determines whether you can pact with the spirit at all. (See “How Binding Works” for more details.)

Totems: A new aspect to binding in PF is the addition of totems - during the binding ceremony, these are three specific additional things you can do to please/soothe the spirit and make binding it easier (i.e. get a bonus to your check.) These can take the form of additional activities you do, or special objects you can offer to it or otherwise interact with inside the seal. Supplying all three totems gives you a +4 untyped bonus on your binding check, while having only one or two gives you only +2. (In other words, if you only have two totems, it’s exactly as useful as having just one, so go with whichever one is easier/cheaper.) Unlike the items for the normal ceremony, objects required for a totem are typically not assumed to be in your component pouch, so be sure to keep track of these. Some totems are very easy to fulfill, such as simply having X ranks in a certain skill, so take a look through this section of the spirit entries and see what is reasonable for you to meet; the bonus goes a long way to helping you make your checks and hit those difficult Capstone Empowerments. If they’re too difficult or onerous to get though, don’t worry about them - you suffer no penalties for not having them, they’re just a little optional boost you can give yourself.

Favored Ally: Another new concept to PF Binding is the Favored Ally. Each spirit has a particular kind of creature or being that they favor as defined in their entry (for example, one spirit may prefer female binders, and another may like elves.) If you qualify as whatever this is, you get a +2 bonus to bind the spirit.

Favored Enemy: Unfortunately, spirits have beings or kinds of beings they detest, as well. If you’re unlucky enough to fall into this category, you get a -2 penalty to bind the spirit. Needless to say, if you qualify as both ally and enemy, the modifiers cancel out.

Sign: As before, forming a pact results in a visible indicator of the spirit’s presence on the binder’s body. This takes the form of two effects - a passive sign (a constant feature or alteration to your physical form that persists for the duration of the pact) and an active sign (an additional visible effect that accompanies your use of any of the spirit’s active granted abilities.) Active signs last until the end of the turn where they were used. If you formed a good pact, you can suppress each sign as a move action (a free action with Suppress Physical Sign). Note that signs are not illusory - people with true seeing up will continue to see them just as they are. Note also that some signs are quite flashy - accompanied by movement, lights or even loud noises, so be very careful which spirits you bind for a stealth mission if you’re unable to suppress them. If you made a poor pact, you must resort to external means (mundane disguises or illusion magic - note that changing your shape typically won’t work) to hide the scarlet letter of your otherworldly agreement. Note that if you made a poor pact but you took Suppress Physical Sign, you will get the ability to suppress the sign anyway at that point (a move action), making that feat an especially good choice for campaigns or settings where binding is troublesome. Note that some abilities require displaying the sign to use or benefit from them, such as the gore attack granted by Mare Loviatha’s unicorn horn - I will notate these with “(Sign)” where applicable. It’s unclear if active signs are also suppressible; it seems they should be, since some relate to the passive signs - more to come on that.

Personality/Influence: The “Personality” entry under each spirit describes how the spirit wants you to behave if you mess up your binding check. As with 3.5 Binding, you are actually free to ignore a spirit’s influence even if you form a poor pact, but doing so is debilitating as the spirit imposes a (stacking!) -1 penalty on just about everything you do (attack rolls, skill checks, saving throws and AC) until the pact ends unless you succeed on a Will save. (DC = the DC used to bind that spirit, including any modifiers.) The save for this is pretty hefty - even low-level spirits tend to start in the high teens for their base binding DC, and it only goes up from there, plus you can’t use things like totems that helped you make the check initially as written. You must make this save every single time you resist a poorly-pacted spirit’s influence, and failures can quickly have a snowball effect as they repeatedly penalize the very saving throw you need to make to resist them.  Do your best to avoid making bad pacts, and if your will save isn’t great, pick spirits whose influence is relatively mild so you can let them have their way with you in relative safety (without townsfolk or even your own party hunting for the nearest tree to string you up from.)

Spirit Alignment: While vestiges in 3.5 are largely amoral, in PF the spirits do have alignments, drawn from their previous existences. There are no restrictions on Pactmakers relative to spirit alignment, but if you are not True Neutral, then you will get a +2 bonus to bind spirits that share your alignment, and a -2 penalty to bind ones that oppose it. This makes neutrality an attractive choice for Pactmakers, as it means you won’t have penalties when it comes to binding any spirit in the book.

Major Ability: This is each spirit’s signature (though not necessarily most powerful/useful) ability. These are either supernatural or SLAs, capable of a wide variety of effects, and typically have a 5 round cooldown. See the spirit entries for more details. In case it matters, the save DC of a Major ability is 10+½ EBL+Cha.

Capstone Empowerment: Another attribute of Major abilities is that they get augmented if you do really well on your binding check - gaining upgrades or even new ways to use them. Whereas the Influence and inability to suppress represent incentive not to fail your check, this is incentive to do as well as you can, and encourages you to have as high a Charisma as you can get away with, use totems and so forth. To achieve a Capstone Empowerment, the Pactmaker must succeed on his binding check by 10 or more (5 or more if you have the Capstone Binder feat.) Also, don’t forget to roleplay! A great performance isn’t just fun for both you and the GM, it could also net you a circumstance bonus that makes the difference.

Minor Ability: Each spirit grants you a small collection of other abilities; like all granted abilities, most are supernatural, and some are SLAs. Some are passive bonuses to skills, some grant you the effects of certain feats, some duplicate spells, and so on. Note that activating a minor ability triggers your active sign just like activating a major one does. Some have limited uses per day (or per pact), some have cooldowns like major abilities, and some are usable at-will with no cooldown at all. Read these carefully and try to maximize the synergy granted by various spirits so that you’re doing something worthwhile every round, particularly on “caster” builds. If these have saving throws, they use the same scaling DC that major abilities do - even the SLAs!

Vestigial Bond: This is a very useful ability granted by most spirits - you can modify your pact slightly by trading away a specific minor ability the spirit possesses, and gain something else instead. Typically this will take the form of a companion (familiar, animal companion, eidolon, mount etc.) that will follow you around and obey your instructions. Companion choice could merit an entire guide on its own, but I’ll do my best here. It’s currently unclear if Vestigial Companions can gain companion archetypes (e.g. Mauler Familiar.) For other spirits, the bond takes the form of a boon - some kind of buff or alternate ability you can gain access to instead. The nature of the bond, and the ability you have to give up to get it,  varies from spirit to spirit - I will mark each of these with “VB” in the Spirit’s section so they’re easy to spot. In addition, companions that would have had the “Share Spells” feature on another class (e.g. a wizard’s familiar, druid’s animal companion, or summoner’s eidolon) replace this ability with one called “Share Granted Abilities” instead. This lets you share both that spirit’s major and remaining minor abilities (including limited uses and cooldowns, if applicable) with the companion - copying not just the passive abilities of the spirit to your companion, but also activatable abilities as well. Needless to say, this is a highly useful ability in many cases - quite apart from the general utility of having a critter around to assist you (and a disposable one at that - after all, if it dies, you can simply get a new one for free next time you form a pact with that spirit), you can in many cases get a whole secondary set of actions with which to activate that spirit’s powers, potentially giving you access to the active abilities of multiple spirits on your turn, and originating from wholly different places on the battlefield. Best of all,  Share Granted Abilities uses your own HD and Cha score to set the save DC of  powers channeled through the companion.


The Spirits (Vestiges)

This list is broken down by level. For a quick, at-a-glance summary of each spirit’s rating, see the color-coding on the Contents page.

Format

Note: All the keywords used here are described in much greater detail in the “Pacting Process and Terminology” section.

Spirit Name, Alias or Title (Binding DC)

Summary: A quick synopsis of what the spirit is and what it gets you.

Constellation: The constellation to which the spirit belongs.

Alignment: The spirit’s alignment. +2 if you match, -2 if you oppose, nothing if you’re neutral.

Ceremony: What you must do within the seal to get the spirit’s attention.

Totems: The list of three bonus activities you can perform while summoning the spirit to make binding it easier.

Sign (Passive): The constant indicator the spirit bestows upon you. Suppressible if you made a good pact, otherwise you will need to conceal it some other way.

Sign (Active): The additional short-term indicator that briefly (1 turn) accompanies your use of a spirt’s active abilities.

Influence: The personality changes the spirit inflicts on you if you make a poor pact. See the Terminology for more on this.

Favored Ally (Likes): The entities the spirit favors. If you qualify, another +2 bonus is yours.

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): The creatures the spirit disfavors.  If you qualify, you get a -2 penalty. If you count as both, they cancel out.

Major Ability:

Ability Name (Su or Sp): Description of what the major ability does and when it might be useful.

Capstone Empowerment: What you get if you overachieved your binding check, beating it by 10 (or 5 with Capstone Binder.)

Minor Abilities:

Ability Name (Su or Sp, VB, Sign): Description of the spirit’s minor ability. If this ability is tradeable for a Vestigial Bond, it will be marked with “VB.” If you must display the spirit’s sign to use this ability, it will be marked with “Sign.”

Ability Name (Su or Sp): Description of the spirit’s minor ability.

Ability Name (Su or Sp): Description of the spirit’s minor ability.

Vestigial Bond (Companion or Boon): Description of the kind of bond the spirit grants in exchange for trading away the “VB” granted ability above. If a companion is granted, the class you are treated as (e.g. druid, wizard, summoner) for determining its abilities will be displayed here.

Overall rating: Score. The Spirit’s overall usefulness. If the spirit could be particularly useful in specific situations, I will try to describe them here. 

1st level

Achaelous, the Slumbering God (DC 16)

Summary: This quite literally bull-headed water deity makes you more athletic, as well as letting you soak and chill your enemies. (Does this make him a sea cow?)

Constellation: Tree (

Alignment: CN

Ceremony: You enjoy some rather fresh sushi.

Totems: (1) Pact within 100 feet of a river or the sea. (2) Negotiate the pact in Aquan. (3) Instead of placing a fish head in his seal, use the head of an aquatic creature of your CR..

Sign (Passive): You get a seaweed beard (regardless of sex.)

Sign (Active): You snort steam from your nose.

Influence: You become clingy and must take anything you want (not sex) by force. The latter can get you in trouble with NPCs, and with your party at loot division time, making him an iffy choice at low levels.

Favored Ally (Likes): Animal (aurochs and bulls), Fey (dryads), Humanoid (maidens), Magical Beast (gorgons).

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): Humanoid (adventurers[!] and bachelors). He’s pretty much always going to hate your guts.

Major Ability: 

Reckless Charge (Su): As a swift action, your next charge gets a bonus to the attack roll and an increase to the AC penalty = +1 for every 10ft you move. Unfortunately, you can't use this while mounted, and the bonus isn't likely to be huge in most combats anyway, but at low levels this plus the gore attack he gives you have a good chance to OHKO weaker enemies. The downside of course is that a charge's AC penalty (which you’ve just made worse) lasts an entire round, and your display is likely to draw attention, so if there are enemies still able to attack you after you use this expect to end up pincushioned.

Capstone Empowerment: You get a bonus on the first damage roll you make after charging equal to the bonus you got to hit. This is useful as it increases the odds that you'll drop your target it one hit, but against multiple foes or tougher foes the same caveats apply.

Minor Abilities:

Athleticism (Su): you get a bonus (½ EBL) to Swim, and you can both run and swim longer without tiring. At low levels the bonus is fairly small, while at high levels you shouldn't need to be worrying about swimming anywhere (or jogging for that matter), so this is typically situational at best.

Command Rivers (Sp): You get hydraulic push as an SLA, usable 3+Cha/day. At level 10+, this upgrades to letting you use control water and cone of cold instead. This starts out fairly tame but at mid levels it's not bad, giving you access to control, utility and a decent AoE all in one.

Misleading Mist (Sp): You can cast obscuring mist as the spell at-will. As it’s stationary and you have no way to see through it yourself, there are few occasions where I’d want to waste a standard action on this, but it’s here if you can think of a use for it.

Partial Transformation (VB, Su): Your head becomes bovine and you get a gore attack and a strength boost! Sounds great, right?  Unfortunately, this has a major downside - you become a blithering idiot (2 Int!) for a whole minute. This can get you into thorny territory with the GM, and will likely cause a bunch of “your character isn’t smart enough to do that” arguments, and this absorbs your headgear to boot. If you need an early gore attack, I suggest just binding Forash and grabbing that Fiend aspect instead.

Vestigial Bond (Companion): You get an aurochs, as a druid’s companion. This eventually (7th level) hits large size with a trample attack, but is otherwise unremarkable with middling to-hit, AC and strength. It’s usually better than what you’re giving up to get it at least, and you can give it Achaelous’ charge ability for a nice damage boost at no risk to you. Once it’s large enough to ride, the long distance running ability will make it a fairly decent mount as well.

Overall rating: Poor. Achaelous’ major is not only weak (especially if you fail to empower it), it can actually get you killed at low levels if you get focused while your defense is lowered. His water powers get great later on, but at low levels, hydraulic push isn’t doing much other than moving individual enemies around the battlefield, and it will quickly fail to do even that much. His other abilities are situational at best and detrimental at worst, and finally, his influence has the potential to land you in hot water if you ever see something you want. His constellation isn’t great either., nor do any of its abilities have synergy with anything he gives you, including his companion.

Aza'zati, the Green Wyrmling (DC 17)

Summary: This rapacious reptile helps you sniff out treasure, boosts your social and swimming skills, makes you harder to hit, and gives you the ability to breathe acid onto your foes.

Constellation: Dragon (naturally.)

Alignment: CN

Ceremony: You take a shot of swamp water and acid, no chaser. (it’s unclear whether the “flask of acid” used in his ceremony is the actual alchemical item, with its associated gp cost, and it’s also unclear whether chugging it damages you - it does not seem enough acid to do so though.)

Totems: (1) Pact within 5 feet of a cave, forest or city spire. (2) Negotiate the pact in Draconic. (3) Bribe the little **** with a 5 gp sacrifice.

Sign (Passive): You get green scales on your body, and you look an age category younger. Combine the youthful look with his shrink ability and you might be able to fool people into thinking you’re a child - well, a scaly green child. Pity you can’t suppress just half of the sign.

Sign (Active): Your eyes turn into gold coins briefly. Think of a cartoon character who realizes he’s going to be rich, and add that cash register sound - Cha-ching! Pretty fitting for a greedy dragon. And speaking of greed...

Influence: You must prioritize the acquisition of currency over all other pursuits. With some creativity this fits readily into an adventuring context, so as long as your party doesn’t mind you demanding a monetary reward for every quest you get, you shouldn’t be too put out by this influence. Make sure they put their coinpurses away at night though.

Favored Ally (Likes): Dragons (Any)

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): Humanoids (arcane spellcasters)

Major Ability: 

Acid Gout (Su): You breathe an impressive 30’ cone of acid that deals 1d6/EBL, reflex half. The area is good for such a low level attack and acid resistance is hard to find this early on. Mind your allies though.

Capstone Empowerment: The acid lingers on your targets burning them for damage equal to half your binder level (min 1) every round for 1d4 rounds. The total damage altogether isn’t bad for 1st/2nd level (especially vs. multiple weak targets) and the scaling isn’t terrible either.

Minor Abilities:

Curious Edge (Su): You get an insight bonus (½ EBL) to Diplomacy and Bluff. Face is a good job for Pactmakers to have and Az makes you better at it, albeit slowly.

Sniff Gold (Su): Just what it sounds like, you can track down Az’s favorite metal by scent. I don’t see this being particularly useful in most campaigns - if there’s treasure nearby, the DM is either probably going to lead you to it anyway, or it’s something you’re better off leaving alone (at least for awhile) like a dragon’s hoard or the king’s treasure chamber. And if the gold is in another form, it’s either not useful (raw ore buried underground) or actively dangerous to obtain (gold golem).  But if the gold is next to something else - say, the plot item you need to find, or if it’s jewelry being worn by someone you’re trying to keep track of - this can be handy in instances like that. If you must use this ability, I recommend getting Az’s companion (see below) and having it do your dirty work for you, then reporting back.

Smaller is Better (Sp, VB): You shrink 1 size category (as reduce person except it works only on you and regardless of race) for minutes/EBL, divisible as you choose using increments of one minute. This can get Small binders like Gnomes and Halflings down to Tiny, making it handy for slipping out of jail, sneaking around, or otherwise getting to places they aren’t supposed to be (and getting out of trouble.)

Wyrmling’s Skin (Su, Sign): You gain a scaling (very slow, but untyped - also, no pun intended) bonus to your natural armor, and a 30ft swim speed. This can stack with the “Scaled” aspect from Dragon, getting you up to +2 natural armor at 1st level that will scale up with you - not bad at all.

Vestigial Bond (Companion): You get a viper familiar, which gains all the abilities of a wizard’s viper familiar of your EBL. (This means, among other things, that you get another +3 to Bluff that stacks with Curious Edge, and it gives you Alertness if it stays near you as well.) This does replace your shrinking ability however. Vipers are sneaky and fight dirty; vipers that can sniff out gold, breathe 30’ acid cones, swim like fish and help you lie with a straight face are even better. The ability you give up for it is pretty strong though.

Overall rating: Okay. Aza’zati is one of the best all-rounder spirits early on, but doesn’t stand out significantly. His breath attack is useful AoE, his natural armor and shrink make you harder to hit, his swim speed gives you situational utility, and the social boost helps you be a better face (particularly if you can hide his sign.) His influence is easy to deal with too, as most adventurers will be primarily focused on acquiring currency at low levels anyway. As mentioned above, his constellation has some synergistic benefits with him - hardening your scales further or adding a glide ability to your swimming. Bump him up a notch if you’re in an aquatic and especially a pirate-themed campaign - sniffing out gold, strong swimming and lying your ass off can only be pluses there.

Cave Mother, Sorceress of Secrets (DC 15)

Summary: This elderly spirit helps you survive outdoors, violate child labor laws, and lightly toast your foes with a short-range fire nova.

Constellation: Mage

Alignment: N

Ceremony: You spit on some kindling, chant cave mother’s name, then burn it. (It’s unclear what you do if your race is unable to spit.)

Totems: (1) Pact in a cave or underground. (2) You are female or have a son who has watched the pact. (3) You use 2 ranks in Survival to add a variety of nuts to the kindling..

Sign (Passive): Your skin looks old and wrinkled.

Sign (Active): You should really cut back on those cigarettes. Thankfully your bluff ability is passive.

Influence: You become annoyed if asked for help and answer questions with more questions, or with scolding. Funny but harmless (unless you’re being interrogated, potentially.) If you have trouble remembering to do this one and don’t want penalties, “what do you think?” is a safe response.

Favored Ally (Likes): Living arcane spellcasters

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): Undead (all)

Major Ability: 

Ghoulish Fire (Su): You emit a 10ft radius nova of flame, dealing 1d6/EBL (no save!). Unlike most instantaneous magical fire, this can make creatures and objects near you catch on fire; As a refresher, creatures need a DC 15 reflex save to avoid this fate; if they fail, they take an additional 1d6 immediately, and then must continue to save every round until they or one of their allies puts them out. This means you can potentially do up to 2d6 to every creature within 10 feet of you, at level 1 - not bad at all. However, though the burst’s damage scales, the catch fire DC doesn’t, and the range is not great either, keeping this from a higher rating. In addition, setting things near you on fire is not necessarily a good thing - particularly if you’re adventuring in the woods where she seems to want you to be.

Capstone Empowerment: Your Ghoulish fire bypasses fire resistance equal to your level. Fire resistance is pretty common so this ability does help, a little.

Minor Abilities:

Deceptive Knack (Su): You gain an insight bonus (½ EBL) to Bluff and Sleight of Hand. Not quite as useful as Aza’zati’s bonuses, but still decent.

Gather Provisions (Sp, VB): You can cast goodberry as the spell, 3+Cha/day. This starts at only a single hit point of damage per berry, but at 3rd level increases dramatically to 1d8+EBL per berry, with the healing cap on the spell goin+g up from 8 to 10+EBL.

Read the Stars (Sp): You get two SLAs in one - know direction (constant) and true strike (3+Cha/day.) The former, while handy if you find yourself in the wilderness, can be replicated just as easily with a common compass. The latter is unfortunately hampered by its action cost.

Undead Bane (Su): You can grant any weapon you use on undead the bane property as a swift action, i.e. gaining +2 enhancement bonus and +2d6 damage for rounds/EBL, divided as you wish. The duration on this is pretty weak early on, but combined with her True Strike you have pretty good odds of taking at least one skeleton out of the fight right away.

Vestigial Bond (Boon): You get a spectral servant, which functions as unseen servant, except as follows - It is constant, visible (appearing as a ghostly, male child of your race - i.e. your “son”), and has a Str score = your EBL + Cha modifier, instead of just 2. (Thus, it is stronger than a regular unseen servant at first level if you have 14+ Cha, and only goes up from there.) At higher levels it can become pretty strong, with a score in the high 20s/low 30s if not higher. It can clean, mend, carry things and open things (doors/chests etc.)  and trigger traps. It’s unclear if its higher strength lets it exert more force than the spell description indicates. Sadly, unseen servants cannot fight, no matter how strong this one becomes. It’s also not actually a companion, so you don’t get to share your powers with it either. On the upside, if it is ever destroyed (requires 6+ points of area damage), you can make a new one with a full-round action (rather than being stuck with no companion until you re-pact.) Other than waiting on you hand and foot and triggering traps for you, the uses of this are limited.

Overall rating: Poor. Cave Mother’s major isn’t terrible but the short range on it combined with its ability to start fires is likely to land you in trouble, and other than her True Strike you don’t have many ways out of said trouble. Aza’zati is, I feel,  a better mix of offense, defense and utility - possessing superior range, better social skills, swimming ability, and better defense. Having said all that however, the Mage constellation has some nice abilities as well and Cave Mother is your fastest way in. Her influence is rather mild (with the biggest risk being annoying someone), and her fire blast does have decent damage potential early on. Ultimately though there isn’t a whole lot here. if you’re in a low-level survival campaign however, bump her up a step; Her ability to keep everyone fed, warm, and never get lost make her quite handy for a wilderness trek.

Coralene, Sovereign of Silver (DC 15)

Summary: This fashionable thief helps you get into places you’re not supposed to be, make guards look the other way, and ruin a lycanthrope’s day.

Constellation: Thief

Alignment: CN

Ceremony: You bling out Coralene’s finished seal with shiny powder.

Totems: (1) You’re in drag. (2) You use powdered silver worth 20gp in the ceremony instead. (3) You wear a snazzy 110+gp silver tiara while you pat. Note that this is reusable if you do find one.

Sign (Passive): Silver rings are tattooed around your fingers and toes.

Sign (Active): A ghostly tiara briefly appears on your head.

Influence: You really like silver (and mithral) things. You must attend any party you become aware of, invited or not. While that last bit could be annoying, Coralene’s powers help you out a great deal here, and nothing is forcing you to stay once you’ve put in your required appearance, nor are you forced to make your presence known. In addition, if the party you hear about is in the future, her spirit may be long gone by the time the date rolls around, leaving you consequence-free. Her powers are all quite useful for achieving this influence safely if you have no other option.

Favored Ally (Likes): Humanoids (nobility)

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): Dogs and canine-like creatures.

Major Ability: 

Unexpected Slip (Su): You can teleport 5 feet as a swift action; you need to be able to see where you’re going. Not only does this not provoke, it doesn’t actually count as any of your movement, so you can  5-foot step or otherwise move normally afterward too. It also scales every 5 levels, up to 25 ft! A useful power for both gish PMs and casters.

Capstone Empowerment: If your destination lands you in cover or concealment, you can attempt to stealth as a free action, allowing you to Batman Exit from conversations. If you fall under her influence, this can also help get you into those parties you’re not supposed to be at (through windows, gates, and other barriers that can be seen through as needed.)

Minor Abilities:

Coralene’s Command (Sp, VB): You can cast command as the spell (at-will!) - this becomes greater command at EBL 10+. Command with a scaling DC is good enough, but the “mass” version is even better since the commands are multi-target and last longer than a round, and since this is a minor ability there is no cooldown; the chief downside is that you can only use this 1/creature/day, so make it a good one.

Master of Subterfuge (Su): You get a ½ EBL bonus to Disguise and Stealth. Like many of her other abilities, this serves to make her influence easier, but can also be used in many other ways. This combos well with her empowered Major, and with Thief’s sneak attack.

Silver Sheen (Su, Sign): All weapons you wield (as well as natural weapons and unarmed strikes)  are treated as silver. Getting this at 1st level can definitely be handy in certain campaigns, and her sign is subtle enough that it shouldn’t freak people out. It’s unclear whether this applies to ranged attacks however.

Trackless Step (Su): You leave no trail - great if you need to exit one of those parties in a hurry, with the hounds in pursuit. Generally though this is situational, especially since it doesn’t extend to anyone else in the group (except your cat, see below.).

Vestigial Bond (Companion): You get a cat familiar (as wizard.) Cat familiars not only boost your stealth even further, this one gets to share your powers of teleportation, sneakiness and inability to be tracked, making it a perfect companion on your capers. Unfortunately, using it means giving up your Command, which you might need if you get caught. Remember that you can also share your Thief aspect with it- this includes the sneak attack ability it can give you, which will give your kitty surprising punch with its silver claws. That commoner won’t stand a chance.

Overall rating: Good. Coralene’s powers make you a great infiltrator, and her command ability is spammable during a fight (on different enemies, but still.) Thief’s powers synergize beautifully with her also, including that sneak attack for a little bonus damage early on. Her influence is also fairly easy to manage in most campaigns, and If you expect to fight lycanthropes or devils early on, her silver attacks are handy as well.

Dantalios, the Broken Athlete (DC 16)

Summary: This ugly athlete gives you a lot of movement-related passives, but can’t decide whether it wants you throwing things at your foes or grappling theme.

Constellation: Seer

Alignment: CN

Ceremony: You work out until you sweat. (It’s unclear how to bind him if your race can’t.)

Totems: (1) You show off an honestly-won athletic trophy. (2) You’re charismatic (16+.) (3) Your combined physical modifiers equal or exceed 10.

Sign (Passive): You get digitigrade legs (think catfolk or turians) with nonfunctioning claws. You also grow slimy scales. Yuck!

Sign (Active): Your body oozes pus. So much for that charisma.

Influence: You brazenly accept all challenges and dares. Your party can troll you quite easily with this one, but hopefully enemies won’t know. You also must accept any free refreshment offered. Note that nothing is forcing you to actually drink it - talk to your GM.

Favored Ally (Likes): Aberrations.

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): Aberrations. Unclear if this is a typo.

Major Ability:

Speed of Dantalios (Su): You get a +30ft bonus to any movement mode you possess of your choice as a swift action, until end of turn. Helpful for running away or charging but not much else. You unfortunately can’t combo this with Achaelous’ charge as they’re both swift actions.

Capstone Empowerment: When you use this, all your movement speeds are doubled. In the right scenario this can make you a missile or torpedo, but remember, you need to actually have a speed before this is useful. Again, I don’t see much use for this other than running away.

Minor Abilities:

Fleet (Su, Sign): You get a passive 5ft land speed increase. Can help if you’re short or wearing armor, but otherwise does little.

Great Charge (Su, VB): You double your charging speed. It’s rare that you’ll be far enough away from an enemy for this to matter, but it is at least passive.

Mighty Throw (Su): You get the benefits of Throw Anything and increase the range increments of thrown weapons by 5 ft. Combined with his speed you could kite enemies fairly easily, but he doesn’t do much else to actually help you hit or do more damage with them.

Wrestling Mastery (Su): You can grapple without provoking, unarmed strike in a grapple with no penalty, and get an insight bonus to Escape Artist (½ EBL.) If you want to be good at grapple you’ll need Improved Grapple, which already negates the first benefit of this, and the rest are weak too. This isn’t bad shared with your companion though (see below.)

Vestigial Bond (Companion): You get to choose from among three companions when you seal this pact - a badger, bird (e.g. eagle, hawk, owl etc.), or shark. The badger and bird come with 3 primary attacks each, making them strong choices. The bird can of course fly, while the badger gets both climb and burrow (both of which are slow, but with Danalios’ speed ability can get insane quickly.)  For a shark you naturally want to be in an aquatic situation or campaign, but they have pretty good AC. Grab Seer’s AC bonus ability as well and they can be decent frontliners. In addition, they are all aberrations - this nets them darkvision, more skills, and potentially the ability to understand you. The downside is that the companion versions of these animals start Small, so no riding them, but they’re still nice.

Overall rating: Poor. Danatlios’ abilities seem at odds with each other - on one hand he seems to want you kiting enemies and throwing things at them, while on the other he wants you charging in and grappling them. A little focus could have made him good at one or the other, but as it is, he’s too scattered to truly benefit his binders in most situations. His constellation has decent abilities too, but they have absolutely zero synergy with what he himself gives you, save the AC bonus. Pick him up if you really need to win a footrace? His companions aren’t bad though, particularly since you can choose which one to use each day.

Eos Dei, The Lonely Archon (DC 16)

Summary: This tricky timepiece interferes with your foes’ actions and even thoughts in multiple ways.

Constellation: Angel

Alignment: LG

Ceremony: You wash your hands in a basin for 60 seconds.

Totems: (1) You break a “timepiece” of at least 5gp in his seal. Note that as written, this can be an hourglass, sundial, or something else similarly fitting a medieval time period. (2) It’s sunny out. (3) you wash your hands with acid! WTF! (Unclear if this does damage to you and/or requires a full/costly acid flask.)

Sign (Passive): You get a baby face.

Sign (Active): You smile. Aww!

Influence: You sing whenever your mood changes; it’s unclear how loudly. You must also follow senpai around. Staying within 5 feet of someone for 24 hours is pretty damn restrictive, and it’s unclear how often you have to roll your save if you can’t. (Every hour? Every minute? Every round? Once?) You can avoid this by being the oldest party member, but it can also latch onto NPCs like mentors, siblings and parents, so be careful.

Favored Ally (Likes): Archons

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): Evil outsiders.

Major Ability:

Scramble Time (Su): You force a target within 30ft to reroll its initiative as a standard action, will negates. This ability can be used to potentially let an ally (or you) act twice in a row - or even better, to let your entire party get two rounds of actions on an enemy before it can act by knocking it from the top to the bottom of the initiative order. The problem though is the randomness factor, both of this ability and of initiative in general, and the will save doesn’t help matters either. Your best bet is to use it defensively if a party member ends up at the bottom of the initiative order, and this is a good one to have your companion cast on your behalf.

Capstone Empowerment: When you scramble someone’s time, you can add +5 or deduct -5 from their new initiative result, tipping the scales ever-so-slightly towards your desired result.

Minor Abilities:

Crushing Loneliness (Su, VB): You can debuff an enemy for 3+Cha rounds; they take -2 to all attack rolls, saves and checks (will negates.) This is also tagged mind-affecting and emotion. It’s a solid debuff but there are a lot of hurdles to landing it. No cooldown, but you can only hit each enemy with it once in a given day.

Hypnotic Melody (Sp): You can hypnotize 2d4+EBL creatures with celestial song, as hypnotism. In addition to the normal descriptors of the spell, this gains the sonic descriptor (since you’re doing it with music.) As normal, this fascinates affected creatures for 2d4 rounds. Sadly, fascinate is easily broken, but this still lets your party play havoc with a group of enemies and reposition themselves or retreat advantageously while you have their attention. Not a bad power at all, especially if you have your companion use it on your behalf so you keep your actions. Note that using it in combat gives them a bonus to their save, but given how many creatures you can affect at once, at least a couple of them are bound to fail and lose a round or two. Finally, this has no cooldown, and is usable 3+Cha/day.

Song of Stolen Memories (Sp): You sing a song that functions as memory lapse, usable at-will, but only once per target per day. This can give you a do-over in many social situations, particularly if your companion casts it surreptitiously while you continue talking. Any memories stolen can be accessed by you with perfect clarity. You can use this offensively too - if you’re eavesdropping on a conversation but you can’t hear or understand what was said, simply have one of them forget, and then take the memory back to your group and repeat it verbatim in the hopes that someone will get it. Alternatively, make a an an enemy forget what action it took last turn and maybe it will repeat that action., potentially wasting it. At 15th level, you can remove up to 5 minutes of memory with this ability. Ultimately situational and heavily GM-dependent, but I see potential here.

Time Sense (Su): You always know what time it is. Even if this is vital information, it’s going to be rare that you can’t get this some other way; why couldn’t this have been the vestigial bond, I wonder?

Vestigial Bond (Companion): You get a raven familiar (as wizard) except that it’s also a flying clock - a construct. It speaks Celestial, so consider picking that up if you plan to use it. At 7+ it gains the celestial creature template as well, making it a bit more useful in combat. Although you lose your Crushing Loneliness ability for it, you can share your other powers with it, alleviating their action cost and making them much more useful. This includes the ability from your Angel constellation - letting it bless the party, heal allies, or fire magic missiles at enemies from the air. I’d pretty much always go with the companion for Eos. The Appraise bonus is unlikely to be relevant in most campaigns however.

Overall rating: Okay. Though Eos’ abilities can be situational, the fact that it has one of the two starting companions capable of speech (and capable of sharing its powers) is a strong plus. Buffing allies, debuffing enemies, and even blasting (from its constellation) round out a fairly useful spirit.

Forash, Prince of Spirits (DC 17)

Summary: This regal rake puts a legion of sinister summons at your fingertips.

Constellation: Fiend

Alignment: LE

Ceremony: You burn a wooden raven and rub the ashes on yourself as you pray to him.

Totems: (1) Pact in Infernal or Abyssal. (2) You have 2 ranks in Know: Planes. (3) You sacrifice a real raven to Forash instead of a wooden one.

Sign (Passive): You get wild and shaggy hair in the form of a mane.

Sign (Active): Your mane waves as though wind is blowing through it.

Influence: You become prone to betrayal. Thankfully this is unspecified (both in nature and frequency), so restrict it to minor pranks and shady deals unless you want the party to pink slip you, and definitely make sure you choose activities that you can make restitution on once he’s gone (e.g. keeping “extra treasure” for yourself, that you can divvy up properly when the pact ends.). You aso need to be taboo or scandalous at all times; since streaking can be hazardous while adventuring, I recommend swearing constantly instead. Both of these can mess up your role as the face however, so exercise caution

Favored Ally (Likes): Goblinoids and Evil outsiders.

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): Dwarves and Elves.

Major Ability: 

Summon Fiend (Sp): You get to summon nature’s ally, as the spell, except any creature(s) summoned get the Fiendish template.  This scales with your maximum spirit level (i.e. up to SNA IX!) and so Forash stays pretty useful as you level; at the earliest levels though his fiends have a very short duration. Fiendish creatures get darkvision and scaling spell resistance, very useful qualities for a disposable meatshield early on. The Smite Good ability is unlikely to see use however, and watch out for who is around when you use this. (The paladin is unlikely to be impressed with you churning out fiendish creatures, and they probably aren’t thrilled with pact magic to begin with, so be circumspect.) Finally, note that the cooldown starts after the monster disappears, so plan accordingly - if they die you’ll be without a new one pretty much until the fight ends..

Capstone Empowerment: Your summons get augmented (+4 Str/Con.)  If you can swing the hard binding check early on, this will give you some very powerful minions indeed, especially early on. Nothing quite like throwing a fiendish eagle at something’s face.

Minor Abilities:

Disappear (Sp, VB): EBL times per day, you can turn invisible as a swift action for 1 round. This is great for getting you out of a dangerous melee situation, or giving you some breathing room to fire off your Summon Fiend safely (i.e. without eating a bunch of arrows as you chant.) As handy as it is though, it’s still a hard choice whether to go with this or the companion. (At the lowest levels, I recommend the companion.)

Forash’s Lore (Su): You get an insight bonus (½ EBL) to both History and Planes checks. Both of these skills are crucial for learning new spirits, so every little bit helps.

Lion’s Roar (Su, Sign): This is a sonic AoE in a respectable 20ft line. After you’ve summoned a fiend, this gives you something to do each round instead of whipping out the crossbow, unless of course you picked up Fiend’s Produce Flame, in which case do that instead and leave this to your lion (if you have it). The damage is quite weak, but sonic is rarely resisted and area attacks can save your bacon at low levels if a swarm shows up. Your companion can use it as well.

Unsettling Presence (Su, Sign):  This is a pretty unique ability; it keeps creatures in a 30ft radius from readying or delaying (will negates.) On the one hand, this can mess with the enemy all the way into the very highest levels. On the other hand, it is much more likely to screw with your party, who can easily forget you have it; 30 feet is a decent radius, and Forash will likely have you hanging back with the other ranged classes to boot. Since it’s constant, you can’t combine this with Selective Ability - however, if you activate it in the morning and stand around the party, they’ll succeed on their will saves eventually and become immune for 24 hours, allowing it to regain its usefulness. At a minimum, you should get your companion immune should you choose one, and have it use the same aura to make you immune that day too.

Vestigial Bond (Companion): Forash gives you a lion, as a druid. It can’t pounce until 7, but it does start with rake, so have it grapple foes (have it pick up Agile Maneuvers ASAP) and watch as it gets five attacks at level 1 (six if you picked up Fiend’s gore!) It can also roar at the enemy’s back line for excellent harassment. It’s a tough choice whether to go with this one or the invisibility, as both can give you the breathing room needed to summon something; I’d probably start with the lion and only switch to invis once my minions can stick around longer.

Overall rating: Excellent. Forash’s influence can be rough and he has the highest binding DC of the starting spirits, but when you’re just starting out yourself, you will want that ferocity on your side. He gives you a number of valid choices with every pact even early on - lion or invisbility? Horns or shooting fire? Which fiend to summon? - that ensure no two pacts with him will play out the same. Exploit the vagueness in his influence as much as your GM lets you get away with - remember that something as relatively innocuous as confessing a fellow party member’s secret crush could count as a betrayal too, so don’t go immediately for PvP or turning someone in to the town guard. As you gain levels, he grows in power considerably, letting you drop tough and disposable meatshields like elementals, dinosaurs, and giants on the field in every fight. Lastly, his skill bonuses assist you in researching his vestigial brethren, making him a useful starter who can help build your vestige repertoire over time.

General Hessant, Patron of Lost Souls (DC 16)

Summary: This spectral soldier stops your foes in their tracks, trains you in swordplay and helps you get around in style.

Constellation: Noble

Alignment: LE

Ceremony: You report for duty, then kneel until he shows up. Ten-hut, private!

Totems: (1) Smash the skull of a creature you’ve killed in his seal. (2) You are male, or a goblin/hobgoblin/orc/half-orc, or have 2 ranks in Profession:Soldier. (3) Salute Hessant with a masterwork longsword when he appears (this is reusable.)

Sign (Passive): You badly need lotion.

Sign (Active): Your skin gets jaundiced (much like a hobgoblin).

Influence: You lose all empathy. Note that this doesn’t make you evil or turn on your party, it just means you won’t take prisoners, so let your companions do any interrogating and let them deal the final blow if the group needs to capture someone that is close to being unconscious. You also won’t reduce anyone’s pain though, so hopefully someone else is on healing duty.

Favored Ally (Likes): Anyone who has served in a military. (Backstory time!)

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): Any spellcaster

Major Ability: 

Hessant’s Punishment (Su): As a standard action, the earth grabs a creature you designate within 30 ft of you, knocking them prone (reflex negates.) You’re effective exchanging a standard action from you for a move (to stand) and potentially a provoke from them, which isn’t a great trade, and naturally this doesn’t work on fliers.

Capstone Empowerment: The earth also entangles your target when it knocks them prone, and keeps them that way until they succeed at another reflex save as a full-round action to escape - a save you just penalized by entangling them in the first place! Given that the earth itself - a pretty clear-cut “immobile object” is the source of the entanglement, you should easily get the full “can’t move at all” version. Though they won’t be totally helpless, enemies with low reflex can be pretty much be dealt with at your leisure.

Minor Abilities:

Courage of the General (Su): You gain +4 untyped on saves vs. fear. Not bad at all.

Dazing Strike (Su): This attack lets you, as a standard action, strike a creature (dealing damage normally) and force a fort save. If the save fails, they are dazed for one round. Targets are immune for 1 day whether they save or not. B****-slapping someone silly with your sword is not the worst thing you could be doing, especially at low levels when you don’t have iteratives anyway, but the action cost holds this back from greatness.

Empower Longsword (Su, VB): Hessant grants you longsword proficiency, and lets you power up any longsword you wield with a scaling enhancement bonus, as well as keen at 6th level, flaming at 12th level, and wounding (18th.) Note that these powers overwrite any that the weapon already possesses, so just grab an ordinary longsword (or better yet, a masterwork one, so you can fulfill his totem) for this. Useful for gish Pactmakers, particularly in low-wealth campaigns, and gives you a cheap weapon or backup.

Iron Gaze (Su): You get an insight bonus (½ EBL) to Intimidate and Sense Motive. This combos well with Noble’s Diplomacy boost, making Hessant another good low-level “face spirit.”

Vestigial Bond (Companion): You gain a horse animal companion (as cavalier.) This is one of the few companions that starts at large, and it has a pretty good strength, AC and speed, and since it’s a companion it starts out combat trained too. Unfortunately, since it inherits from cavalier rather than druid, it doesn’t gain “Share Spells” and therefore cannot share your powers. Horses are decent combatants and capable mounts, but without the ability to share Hessant’s powers it falls behind some of the other companions you could select at this level (e.g. Forash’s lion), plus you give up the magic sword to get it.

Overall rating: Okay. Hessant’s abilities are suited to gish Pactmakers, whether you go with the sword or the horse. His Punishment and Noble’s Command can decent on “caster” builds as well. While solid however, he is not the best choice for a gish at this level.

Gwenolyn’s Ghost, The Haunting Lover (DC 15)

Summary: This romantic revenant lets you mess with enemies’ hearts and heads.

Constellation: Skull

Alignment: NG

Ceremony: Make him an “effigy of love.” This appears to be a picture of some kind.

Totems: (1) The picture is of someone who friendzoned you. Savage. (2) You put some effort into the effigy (it’s worth at least 10g) then you also engrave it with your true love’s name, or Gwenolyn’s Ghost’s lover’s name, or that of a local person. The latter two require two ranks in Know: History or Local, respectively. (3) You read GG’s tale passionately, requiring two ranks in Perform: Oratory..

Sign (Passive): Your skin becomes pale.

Sign (Active): You become translucent.  

Influence: GG sends you daydreams of your true love - or if you haven’t met them yet, you have a chance of seeing his own instead. Everything you say must relate to your true love somehow. This one is harmless and actually a bit hilarious. If you have trouble remembering this once, just avoid speaking unless you absolutely must.

Favored Ally (Likes): Incorporeal undead.

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): Divine spellcasting humanoids.

Major Ability:

Spectral Caress (Su): As a standard action, you make GG manifest next to your target and caress them, dazing them for 1 round (will negates.) This is trading a standard from you for a full round from them, not a bad trade. The downsides, in addition to the will save, are that it is mind-affecting and a phantasm, so effects that beat illusions (like true seeing) will beat this too.

Capstone Empowerment: The duration becomes 1d4+1 rounds instead. At a minimum of 2 rounds of daze, this becomes a much better deal, and you can lock someone out of the fight entirely. Attacking them doesn’t break it either, though they’re not flat-footed or otherwise defenseless.

Minor Abilities:

Ghost Hand (Sp): You create a ghostly hand that functions as mage hand, at will. Unlike the spell, this creates an actual (incorporeal hand) that does the manipulating. The carrying capacity is low but you can use this to open doors and otherwise affect things at a distance, from relative safety, albeit close range.

Lover’s Charms (Su): Insight bonus = ½ EBL on Diplomacy and Bluff. Bonuses to useful face skills.

Overwhelming Loss (Su, VB): You can make a target shaken, will negates, at will. There is no cooldown or immunity, so you can spam this; not bad. You can also power it up by taking a big penalty to the save DC - -5 to make them immediately frightened, -10 to take them all the way to panicked in one go. If you want to panick someone, I recommend Shaking them first, and then trying for the Frightened on a subsequent round, which should get them all the way up. Even if all you manage is shaken though, that’s still not a bad debuff. As you might imagine, this is a mind-affecting fear effect.

Speak With the Departed (Sp): As speak with dead, but you’re limited to targets within one step of your alignment. This is situational even without the unnecessary limitation.

Vestigial Bond (Companion): You get a pony animal companion (as druid.) Like Hessant’s horse, this is combat trained, but it is significantly less useful in a fight, and also doesn’t work as a mount unless you’re Small (since it’s medium.). The one saving grace is that it can Spectral Caress for you, though you’ll have to teach it how. GG’s other abilities aren’t really combat-relevant, so being able to share them adds little value. However, you CAN share Skull’s Chill Touch with it for a little more combat punch. Of course, using it means giving up GG’s useful fear power.

Overall rating: Okay. GG’s main strength, in addition to accessing the Skull constellation, is its debuffs to daze and fear your enemies. At-will fearing is quite nice on certain builds, and you do get some nice face bonuses as you level as well..

Jacques Gaston, the Dazzling Duelist (DC 17)

Summary: This foppish phantom makes you a duelist without peer, though he himself is your harshest critic.

Constellation: Starless

Alignment: CN

Ceremony: You chant his name quietly and get a wave going.

Totems: (1) You carve his seal using a masterwork performance weapon. A gladius is probably the easiest way to get this without spending a feat. (2) You wear expensive (3000gp!) clothing and jewelry as a focus. Magic rings and amulets will easily clear this eventually. (3) You have 15+ Charisma.

Sign (Passive): Your clothing shines like a torch. Hope you’re not trying to be stealthy.

Sign (Active): The rest of your body shines too. So much for the nakedness strategy.

Influence: You constantly need compliments. I guess he’s your spouse, heh heh. As influences go this is pretty mild.

Favored Ally (Likes): Humanoid women and children.

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): Humanoid duelists and gladiators.

Major Ability:

Morituri Te Salutant (Su): As a standard action, you make a single attack that automatically gets bonus precision damage (1d6, scaling slowly up). Interestingly, this attack can be ranged, making him a decent archer-binder early choice (particularly for non-pactmakers, since he’s Starless.) While this is useful at low levels, the slow scaling and limit of one attack makes this less appealing as you grow.

Capstone Empowerment: Your MTS does an additional 1d6. Straightforward and bland, but doing +2d6 at level 1 is quite deadly and one-shotting an enemy with this can immediately trigger some of his performance bonuses (see below.)

Minor Abilities:

Moment of Greatness (Sp): As the spell, 3+Cha/day. This is primarily for use with Gaston’s “Vestigial Audience”, though of course you can use it to boost other morale bonuses like Bless and bardic performance if your party has them.

Crowd Pleaser (Su): You gain the benefits of Performance Weapon Mastery, letting you treat any weapon you wield as a performance weapon. This again is primarily for Vestigial Audience. Upgrade this somewhat if performance combat is common in your games.

Psychological Warfare (Su): An insight boost to all three face skills (D,B,I) and it’s equal to your full binder level rather than half. If that weren’t enough, you can now demoralize and feint as move actions too. Whoa!

Vestigial Audience (Su, VB): Jacques himself becomes your audience, treating every fight you get into as a performance combat. The good news is that your Charisma should be pretty high, so even without Perform ranks you have a decent shot at making the checks. (Like all crowds, Jacques starts indifferent, so the DC is a mere 10.). The other good news is that Jacques’ “crowd size” scales with level, so you don’t have to be too impressive at low levels to sway him to your side. His Crowd Pleaser and Psychological Warfare abilities also give you an edge here. If you don’t care too much about performance combat, simply get him to Friendly and then use your Moment of Greatness power to double his bonus, and laugh as enemies eat his (mind-affecting) penalties. If you’d rather not deal with the whole performance combat stuff though, simply swap this out for his boon instead, but keep in mind that in doing so you’re rendering two of his other abilities basically pointless and you’re probably better off binding something else.

Vestigial Bond (Boon): You emit a 10ft aura, and any enemies inside are considered your ally for flanking purposes. This is a mind-affecting effect. This gets you some cheap attack bonuses, keeps you yourself from being flanked, and if you have sneak attack from another source (e.g. Thief or Vandrae) makes it pretty easy to trigger solo. On its own though the bonuses are minor.

Overall rating: Okay. Jacques encourages you to be more martially-inclined but gives you precious little to achieve that on his own. In combination with other spirits he can be formidable however. The massive bonuses he provides to face skills, as well as his relatively mild influence, elevate him above the pack, but he is also dragged back down by lacking a constellation and companion.

Marat, Guardian of Shields (DC 15)

Summary: This amiable automaton makes his pactmakers into absolute tanks.

Constellation: Hero

Alignment: LN

Ceremony: You sit and read to him from a children’s storybook. The fluff suggests it is a specific one (or at the very least, one that contains a specific story) so check with your GM.

Totems: (1) You’re a gnome (note: gnomes are also his favored enemy!) OR have 2 ranks in Know: Engineering. (2) You read the storybook in Gnomish. (3) You place 50gp worth of books around the seal. (Note: these are not consumed as written, so you can reuse them.)

Sign (Passive): Your skin turns metallic and cold.

Sign (Active): A ghostly image of Marat’s chassis overlays itself on you, complete with turning gears.

Influence: You daydream a lot and your eyes glaze over. When nobody is in danger, Marat wants you constantly reading. While generally benign (typically doesn’t interfere with combat) this can make it harder for you to be the party’s social face. See if you can spot signs near people you need to talk to, or have a party member stand off to the side holding a book that you can look at as you speak.

Favored Ally (Likes): Constructs.

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): Gnomes.

Major Ability: 

Defend the Ward (Su):  You teleport, swapping places with an ally within 30ft.  as a move action. Neither of you provoke for trading places. You can even swap places with an ally that’s being grappled, freeing them and becoming grappled yourself - a very unique effect. This combos very well with a vestigial companion to getting you where the enemy does not expect you to be, particularly for frontline/gish  Pactmakers.

Capstone Empowerment: You can now swap as a swift action, and at EBL 10, even an immediate action - letting you take an attack in place of an ally. This effectively gives you a way to pounce at level 1, simply by moving an ally or companion up to an enemy first. Combined with his other defensive abilities, you won’t mind landing in hot water. A solid upgrade.

Minor Abilities:

Bodyguard (Su): You gain the benefits of the Bodyguard feat. This gives you more opportunity to protect your fellow frontliners (including any companions, who typically have lower AC) that may be in melee next to you, at a low-ish action cost. As a feat this is weak, but as a free minor ability, you have little to lose.

Marat’s Body (Su, VB): This ability makes Marat a strong choice for your starting spirit, especially gishes. Like his older counterpart Savnok, he lets you summon armor (masterwork breastplate in this case) for free at level 1, and its abilities scale with you, gaining enhancement bonuses as you go up. At 9th level you can choose to summon masterwork fullplate instead. What’s particularly nice about this is you can activate it after using a shapeshifting spirit (e.g. Fey Baraddu or Lady Jarah); per the polymorph rules, supernatural effects you activate after shifting don’t meld into your body, which can send your AC to extremely high levels, all at no cost to you. Thus you can eventually be, say,  a bear in full plate - quite a scary tank for the enemy to be faced with.. Naturally, you also gain proficiency with this armor (see “Armor Training” below.) Even caster Pactmakers might want to look into this, since armor doesn’t interfere with spirit abilities (they are invariably supernatural or SLAs). As the armor scales, it only gives you basic enhancement - if you do want armor special abilities, you should have plenty of cash (from not buying armor, natch) to spring for some bracers of armor.

Marat’s Precautions (Sp): You can cast alarm and shield of fortification as SLAs, 3+Cha/day. The former is useful if the party keeps watch in shifts, especially if you’re under his influence that evening and he forces you to keep your nose in a book instead of paying attention. The latter is underwhelming but if you have a free moment in combat, there’s no harm in throwing it on. The nice thing about the alarm function is that you basically get enough uses to blanket your entire campsite overnight, and refresh all the uses the following morning so you can do it all again (assuming you pact with Marat a second time, that is.)

Armor Training (Su, VB): This gives you the proficiency needed to wear Marat’s Body - i.e. with both medium and heavy armor. It also gives you the Fighter’s Armor Training class feature (1 and 2.) This lets you avoid the speed reduction his Body would have given you, lets you keep more of your dex bonus in heavier armor, and lowers its armor check penalties - all great things if your Pactmaker would like to use Marat without building around him. These are arguably even more valuable for you than they are for fighters, since you may not want to be in heavy armor for your entire career, so go nuts.

Vestigial Bond (Boon): Marat actually trades two abilities for his bond - the Body (armor), and the then-superfluous Training (proficiency) that lets you wear it and move in it. In exchange, you get a constant mage armor effect, which lasts as long as your pact with Marat does. Now, most of the time this will be a downgrade - mage armor is a +4 armor bonus, while breastplate is +6 base and full plate is +9 base, with the enhancements taking it even higher from there. And thanks to the armor training ability, you won’t be quite as inconvenienced by the “real” armor if you, say, need to run or climb. But for low-strength, high-dex Occultists, or in an aquatic campaign, actual armor can be much more detrimental, which makes the less tangible option preferable, so definitely consider making the trade in that case. In addition, mage armor has the added benefit of applying against incorporeal enemies (as it is a force effect), so consider deploying this version in those cases as well. Still, the lack of scaling does make this a numerically worse option unless your Dexterity is astronomically high.

Overall rating: Good. Marat brings slightly less to the table for a caster Pactmaker than Forash does, but gish Pactmakers (even the ones planning to shapeshift) should be all over him, for saving them a ton of gold if nothing else. While he doesn’t get you a companion of his own, a spirit that does should be your next choice at level 4 to combine with him, and then you can use his swap and bodyguard ability to put the enemy at a hefty strategic disadvantage. Don’t forget his Hero constellation as well, which will give you martial/exotic weapon proficiencies or useful attack bonuses that go perfectly with all the defensive buffs he gives you. All in all, Marat is a strong choice who will go a long way to keeping you alive long enough to advance further down the binding path. If you plan on frontlining - and in many cases, even if you don’t - you’ll need a good reason to pass him by.

Milo of Clyde, Detective of Despair (DC 14)

Summary:  This dour dwarven detective helps you be good with a gun/crossbow as well as good at getting to the bottom of mysteries.

Constellation: Scholar

Alignment: LG

Ceremony: You swear to follow RoboCop’s third Prime Directive.

Totems: (1) you deface the seal of Obba, Ella, Atasha (this totem keeps you from binding OEA for 1 day.) (2) Your 2 ranks in Know:Local give you knowledge of local laws and customs. Hey, nobody said it had to be comprehensive knowledge. (2) You haven’t broken any serious laws in the last 24 hours. (Does looting bandits count?)

Sign (Passive): You grow a beard, or peach fuzz if you’re female.

Sign (Active): You furrow your brow. Now if only you had a Sherlock pipe...

Influence: You become a rules lawyer in-universe. Be careful binding this guy in a city, where adventurers end up breaking the law fairly often even by accident. However, he requires the laws you uphold be “just,” which can give you some wiggle room, particularly in LE jurisdictions.

Favored Ally (Likes): Crime Victims (within 72 hours of the pact.)

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): Criminals (within 72 hours of the pact.)

Major Ability: 

Milo’s Lucky Break (Su): As an immediate action gain ½ EBL (minimum 1) as an insight bonus to all saving throws and AC until end of turn. If you saw my complaints about Noble and Seer, they apply just as well here - “end of turn” is unfortunately very different than “end of round” and his break is not very useful if you’ve got multiple opponents gunning for you. You can however at least use it to interfere with the worst one’s attacks and abilities. In addition to being “single-target” both from an ally and enemy perspective, the cooldown isn’t great here either, and finally the bonus itself is pretty weak early on and takes a while to get respectable.

Capstone Empowerment: You can give the bonus to an ally instead.

Minor Abilities:

Deft Fingers (Su): ½ EBL to Disable Device and Sleight of Hand, plus you gain Trapfinding (i.e. you can disarm magical traps with DD.) Useful if nobody else has it.

Lead Slinger (Su, VB): You gain proficiency with all crossbows and guns, and can reload them (and slings) as an immediate action. He doesn’t actually GIVE you a gun, or any of the more exotic crossbows and slings, so if they’re not readily available in your campaign this loses some lustre, but at a bare minimum this can make using a heavy crossbow less painful at low levels. At 10th level you can reload these weapons as a free action.

Milo’s Truthtelling (Su): Touched targets must tell the truth, will negates. The wording appears cribbed pretty directly from zone of truth, with all the caveats that ability includes, but this isn’t a SLA at least. If you need to interrogate someone… well to be perfectly honest I can think of better spirits for the job, but if you can force them to speak this is at least an option.

Street Savvy (Su): Perception and Sense Motive bonuses are always welcome. Survival is more situational, but it can be useful too.

Vestigial Bond (Companion): You get a talking ferret familiar (as wizard; stats as weasel and it speaks -  and reads/writes! - in Dwarven.) This gets points for sheer coolness, combat ability be damned. Lead Slinger is tough to give up though as it’s basically the only quasi-offensive ability Milo gives you. Weasels give a boost to reflex (your weak save) and this one can force people to tell the truth like you can.

Overall rating: Poor. Milo is situational, and while he can save you some feats with the right build (a quasi-gunslinger/bolt ace) he doesn’t really help you out in that role in any meaningful way. His major can save you from one foe, at which point its cooldown will kick in and take it offline for the rest of the fight. If firearms, especially powerful or advanced ones, are available in your campaign, raise his rank a notch.

        

Sevnoir, the Meandering Mastiff (DC 16)

Summary: This canine spook helps you unnerve your enemies, sprint like an olympian, and hide in the dark. Unfortunately he seems to be photophobic.

Constellation: Beast

Alignment: NE

Ceremony: You sit and blow a homemade dog-whistle, then rub ashes on it and blow again. Here boy!

Totems: (1) Pact in a dark or shady spot. (2) Use an urn containing a family member’s ashes as a focus. (3) Bring a friendly dog to watch your pact, OR be an elf/half-elf/drow.

Sign (Passive): You look shadow mastiff-y.

Sign (Active): Your expression looks rabid. Bad dog!

Influence: You become overly protective of your friends. Aww. Note that it only requires you to threaten violence, not follow through.

Favored Ally (Likes): Elves and... shadow mastiffs, of all things.

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): Halflings and humans.

Major Ability: 

Baying Howl (Su): You howl, causing all enemies within 30ft who can see/hear you to become shaken for 1d4 rounds, will negates. Note that this is not actually a sonic effect, so they don’t necessarily have to hear you. Mind-affecting fear effect, naturally.

Capstone Empowerment: The fear lasts longer in enemies who fail their save by larger amounts. This can help if you roll low on the 1d4 round duration above.

Minor Abilities:

Blood Hunt (Su): You can charge double-distance and gain the Run feat. More importantly, you gain the ability to charge as a standard action (up to twice your speed), freeing up your move action for other things (e.g. your Effortless Intimidation and Shadow Blur) as well as letting you ready charges. Situationally useful, and your dog gets this too.

Effortless Intimidation (Su): You can demoralize as a move action and suffer no size penalties to intimidate - great for small races like Halflings. (Note that size bonuses still apply.) Against a lone target this tends to work out better than howling. Don’t forget that your dog can use this too. This combos with

Feast on Fear (Su, VB): Your attacks and supernatural abilities that deal damage leech life (=EBL) off enemies suffering from fear. Any source of fear counts, so a low-level Pactmaker with Sevnoir can spam demoralize with their move actions and attack with their standards, siphoning HP from foes with every strike. This is a cheap way to top you off towards the end of a fight. You can only benefit from this healing 1/round.

Shadow Blur (VB): You gain concealment until end of turn as a move action and cannot use it to stealth.  Daylight (the spell, or real thing) negate it but it is otherwise unaffected by light. This gives you a decent defense to go along with the debuffing it lets you do.

Vestigial Bond (Companion): You get a dog animal companion (as druid) with a bonus tail slap attack; combine with Beast’s Claws power and you’ll have a dog with 4 attacks that can demoralize enemies and charge them all in the same round (no pounce though.) Alternatively, use Beast;s speak with animals power to give it more complicated instructions. Dogs are fast, good jumpers, can accompany you into dungeons and even many towns easily, and have a great perception mod along with scent. Spec your mastiff for things like tripping/tracking and you’ll have a fairly useful sidekick. He also shares your howl and defensive blur abilities for even more utility. Animal companions can invest in their Intimidate skill, so feel free to keep his maxed for a very mean dog. It starts off Small but can get to Medium as early as 4th level.

Overall rating: Good. Sevnoir focuses on fear, which has many counters at high levels, but can be a nice debuff early on when a -2 is likely to be a significant difference. More important is his companion, which is quite a beast (no pun intended) early on; the only drawback is both of you losing out on his life leech power which is nice to have at low levels.

Verbose, She With Endless Names (DC 19)

Summary: This gabby gnome makes you a true friend to nature.

Constellation: Starless

Alignment: NG

Ceremony: You perfume the seal and tell her about your day.

Totems: (1) You gather 7 friends outside the seal to watch. (The totem says “people” so it’s unclear if familiars and companions count, and since an attitude is mentioned it’s unclear if PCs count too.) (2) You’re a gnome OR you recite your day in a single breath, requiring Con 14. (3) You are in the form of a Small or smaller animal.

Sign (Passive): You get seasonal foliage for hair (e.g. flowers in spring, orange leaves in fall etc.)

Sign (Active): Your words turn into flower petals.

Influence: You become outgoing and upbeat. You cannot scare anyone. Perhaps the mildest influence yet, but needless to say, don’t combine her with Sevnoir :P Note that this prohibition goes beyond intimidate and fear effects, so be extra careful around skittish animals while outdoors and make liberal use of her abilities if you find yourself at the front of the marching order. In general, if your party scares something, you should have a good argument for saying it wasn’t you specifically.

Favored Ally (Likes): Gnomes

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): Giants, goblins, kobolds

Major Ability:

Surprise Image (Su): As an immediate action, you can make a Stealth check to replace your AC until end of turn by generating figments around yourself to conceal your true position. It’s unclear if this applies to touch AC and CMD too, but it seems like it should; if not, downgrade this a step due to the short duration. Depending on your build and other spirits, this can get your AC to quite high levels, and if you trigger it in response to multiple attacks (such as a full-attack) you’re likely to negate the entire thing. Only lasting for a turn however runs into all the problems covered previously with the Seer constellation e.g. affecting only one opponent, and the cooldown keeps you from reapplying it.

Capstone Empowerment: This now lasts an entire round, letting you fool multiple attacks. While the cooldown is still an issue, this can still save you from a pretty nasty hit (or series of hits). This becomes a worthwhile ability to use your Spirit Mastery on in some fights. As before, downgrade if it applies only to regular AC.

Minor Abilities:

All Tongues (Su): You can speak ½ EBL additional languages, or in place of any languages gained, speak to one type of animal. Useful in general, and combos well with Friend to All. Unclear what happens if you share this with her companion.

Friend to All (Su): ½ EBL insight to Diplomacy, and you gain wild empathy as a druid. Go become Squirrel Girl.

Punch Line (Su, VB): You tell a supernatural joke, dazing your target for 1 round (will negates). As you might expect, this is language-dependent - but curiously it is not mind-affecting, so you can get vampires splitting their sides if they have an unlucky roll. Targets get a +4 bonus on their save if they’re a different type from you unfortunately. I would probably always go with the companion here.

Nature Sense (Sp): You get detect animals and plants at-will. This can be very useful as an at-will ability - both for detecting these living things, and for assessing their condition.

Vestigial Bond (Companion): You can pick any druid animal companion you want! There’s too many possibilities to cover here, but you can get a lot of utility out of this choice.

Overall rating: Okay. Verbose’s abilities are middling to situational. Her companion elevates her ranking out of the situational rung, having a lot of potential to be useful (and will only grow more powerful as splats are released) but the remaining abilities won’t do a lot outside of a nature-heavy campaign. Being Starless, she also does not bring a useful constellation to your plate at low levels.

Vishgurv, Aberrant of Time Eternal (DC 13)

Summary: This avaricious aquan swears you’re soulmates, and is willing to modify your body and cross death’s door to prove it.

Constellation: Dark Beyond

Alignment: LE

Ceremony: You make dirty sushi.

Totems: (1) You personally caught the fish you used. (2) You are a gillman, or drank a water breathing potion. (3) You’re pacting him consecutively. This one’s hard to get once you have multiple spirits (of course, by then you’ll have better options too.)

Sign (Passive): You grow webbing between your digits.

Sign (Active): Your eyes bulge.

Influence: You become mellow and must try to force any binders you meet to pact with Vishgurv. This likely won’t be relevant unless binders are prevalent in your campaign, but even then, you’re only required to “attempt” - so a strong no from them should be enough.

Favored Ally (Likes): Aquatic humanoids.

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): Non-aquatic humanoids.

Major Ability:

Slime Slap (Su): You can disease targets with a slimy slap (standard touch attack), fort negates. A failure staggers them for 1 round and infects them with a disease that forces them to submerge themselves 1/day or take Con damage. Remove Disease can cure this. This is far, far too slow to be practical for nearly any PC.

Capstone Empowerment: They must submerge every hour instead. This make it approach relevance, but it isn’t there yet.

Minor Abilities:

Aquatic Assimilation (Su, Sign): You gain the amphibious subtype and a 30ft. swim speed (or a 10ft bonus to your swim speed if you already had one. Not bad but I’d rather use Aza’zati.

Arcane Absolution (Su): ½ EBL to Spellcraft and UMD, the first spirit to grant these benefits. In addition, you can use wiz/sorc spell trigger items (i.e. wands and staves) without making a UMD check at all. Not bad, and a halfway decent reason to bind him.

Pact of Servitude (Sp): If you die while bound, Vishgurv automatically reincarnates you as a gillman and forces you to stay bound to him for a year and a day, under his influence. This is weird and difficult to rate - on the one hand, yay you didn’t die! On the other hand, being forced to stay bound to him means low-level pactmakers  won’t have room for any other spirits for an entire year, or at least until they hit 4th level. This applies to other binders too, but at least they have other class features. Whether it beats the alternative is up to you, but I think I’ll rate it green for now. (Note also that since you’re forced into a poor pact, you don’t benefit from your constellation either.)

Thrall Shape (Su, VB): You transform into a skum for min/EBL (divisible as you choose), gaining slowly scaling Str and Con boosts (enhancement, unfortunately), and a small Cha penalty. This is a polymorph effect, meaning you gain the Skum’s claw and bite attacks - and since they’re monstrous humanoids, none of your armor or other gear will meld into your body, making this a halfway decent melee form for low levels. It’s unclear if this works like monstrous physique (or even just alter self), which would get you other benefits from the Skum; notably, its darkvision and swim speed, though of course you already have one of those from Aquatic Assimilation.

Vestigial Bond (Companion): You gain a blue-ring octopus familiar (as wizard.) Unlike regular BROs, yours is amphibious rather than aquatic, and can even fly (extremely slowly, but it’s Tiny so it can always perch on your shoulder or something if you need to move faster.) This familiar gives you a bonus to your swim checks, which you likely won’t need anyway, and has a very weak poisonous bite. Finally, just about all the abilities you’d share with it are redundant. Stick with the Skum form ability. If you’re in an aquatic environment/campaign however, upgrade this slightly as its shortcomings are mitigated somewhat.

Overall rating: Okay. Vishgurv’s major ability is a dud, and his companion is largely unnecessary,  but his minors are surprisingly strong. I’d say try not to die while bound to him, but then, you shouldn’t be trying to die period, and there are probably worse spirits you could be stuck with for a year.

2nd-Level

Al’kra, the Operated (DC 16)

Summary: Did you get it? He’s Slenderman! Come on, what more do you people need??

Constellation: Dark Beyond

Alignment: CE

Ceremony: You sing his song.

Totems: (1) You sacrifice a living creature while you sing. (2) You pact within 10 feet of a forest or abandoned building. (3) You place an effigy in the seal, requiring Know: Religion and Know: Local 2 ranks.

Sign (Passive): You get a birthmark resembling his seal on a random part of your body, determined by d8.

Sign (Active): Shadowy tendrils erupt from your back.

Influence: You become aggressive, and you plot the murders of everyone around you. Thankfully nothing makes you actually carry these killings out.

Favored Ally (Likes): Aberrations.

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): Humanoids.

Major Ability: 

Paranoid Chill (Su): You make the target shaken for a few minutes and they take a small amount of (scaling) nonlethal damage. This simultaneously strips fear immunity (from anything that isn’t mindless), so you can even fear intelligent undead and paladins. This makes Al’kra a strong addition to a fear-based build, and a good partner for spirits like Sevnoir. What makes this nice is that it’s only a partial will save - if they make the save, they can keep their fear immunity, but if they didn’t have that, there’s no defenses against this whatsoever, and being supernatural, it’s very difficult to remove too. Enjoy creeping out your enemies.

Capstone Empowerment: You make the target cough for the duration, adding a failure chance to anything they do with verbal components. Note that this goes beyond spells - enjoy messing with command word items, spell trigger items and Witch cackling for instance.

Minor Abilities:

Inspire Terror (Su, VB): Frighten a foe as a standard action (will negates), This has no use limit or cooldown, but is only usable on a given target 1/day. With fear stacking, you should be able to panic/cower someone who is already Shaken with this, making it quite strong. Be careful where you use it though -  you don’t want to be chasing screaming bad guys into a hazardous area, or hither and yon in a wide open field. If you can keep your foes contained however, this will let you break enemy frontlines quickly, particularly if you’re faced with big dumb bruisers that have poor will saves.

Murder Master (Su): You get a scaling damage boost (insight) and a +2 to your coup de grace save DC. The extra damage is nice (note that it reaches +2 shortly after you get the lanky bugger) but the slow scaling makes it more of an afterthought. Note however that as written it applies to your ranged attacks too, and extra damage never fails to shine there.

Spatial Bleeding (Sp?): You rip the space around you, gaining blur for EBL minutes per day, divided as you choose. This doesn’t shut off in the light like Sevnoir’s does, but you can’t use it to hide either. It’s useful enough on it’s own, but it’s even better if you combine it with…

Spatial Leap (Su): Teleport 5ft/EBL as a move action, 3+Cha/day, as long as you have concealment at the origin. Teleportation at 3rd-level (much less non-standard-action) is good enough on its own, but there’s more - if you land in an opponent’s threatened area, they’re automatically flat-footed to your next melee attack. Talk about a sudden strike! It’s no shadow pounce, but early on you can get some nice range on this, and combined with your Murder Master you can quickly delete a threat from the field. You can use this pretty much anywhere thanks to Spatial Bleeding and Dark Beyond’s Vanish ability, but don’t forget mundane sources of concealment like fog and darkness.

Vestigial Bond (Boon): You can cast rage as an SLA 3+Cha/day. This is better on you than on most other spellcasters since many Pactmaker abilities don’t require concentration due to being supernantural (and can thus be used while raging.) Having said that however, the buffs are tiny and this will shut off your other SLAs. Use this if you plan on going up against enemies that are immune to fear, but otherwise, I’d go with the debuff over this.

Overall rating: Good. Like Sevnoir, Al’kra excels at scaring your foes, but he also brings a bit of an assassin’s touch to your dirty work.  His ability to pierce fear immunity keeps him relevant well into your career, and the ability to render many foes flat-footed at a moment’s notice shouldn’t be underestimated. All in all, a solid and spooky spirit.

Hollow Eyes, The Living Scarecrow (Binding DC)

Summary: A quick synopsis of what the spirit is and what it gets you.

Constellation: Fiend

Alignment: Chaotic Evil

Ceremony: You act out the last part of the spirit’s play.

Totems: (1) You perform well thanks to your Perform (Acting) 4 ranks. (2) You flay the skin of a humanoid until it has been completely destroyed. It’s unclear how much skin you need for this. (3) You’re a tiefling or drink 200gp worth of demon blood. (Charming.)

Sign (Passive): You grow a tail with barbs on it.

Sign (Active): Your face looks skeletal. One might say… hollow? (wink)

Influence: You become a thespian. You also introduce yourself to new people in the creepiest way possible, touching and tasting their skin. This one is likely to be a barrel of laughs for your GM, but it can land you and the group in hot water quickly depending on who you meet that day.

Favored Ally (Likes): Gargoyles.

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): Good humanoids.

Major Ability:

Melody of Madness (Su): You produce a “horrible” song that confuses 1 target within 30 ft for rounds=EBL , will negates.  While confusion is best in an area to start your foes on the endless “who-hit-me” loop, this is still good for interfering with the actions of a low-will target, and the best targets for this (big bruisers and bursty rogues) tend to not be great in the will department. A strong ability.

Capstone Empowerment: You can choose to make the Melody language-dependent to increase its potency (+2 DC). If the target has a language, and you speak said language, there’s pretty much no reason not to do this.

Minor Abilities:

Gargoyle Form (Su, VB, Sign): You can take on a gargoyle form (a polymorph effect.)  This grants several benefits - two 1d4 talon attacks with the grab ability (note that these replace your hands entirely, so don’t expect to use weapons or other objects, despite being able to grapple creatures with them), a 40ft fly speed (average), and free use of the Flyby Attack feat. You can use this form for min./EBL, divided as you choose. Flight at level 3 is nice to have, and the 2 natural attacks it grants (3 if you count Fiend’s gore) make this a pretty decent combat form early on, especially given the ability to snatch up targets “on the wing.” Finally, Gargoyles are monstrous humanoids - this means that you get to keep your gear. As noted above, weapons and shields are out, but this is one of the few polymorph effects that lets you keep your armor, so go nuts.

Oversized Grapple (Su): You are considered one size larger when grappling. Goes great with Gargoyle form’s grab ability and Flyby Attack, letting stronger Pactmakers easily snatch their foes into the air at a pretty low level. Use this combo to splatter foes that lack flight of their own.

Steal Skin (Sp): You can disguise self (as the spell) at-will, giving you a fair amount of sneakiness. If you use a dead humanoid’s skin with this power (this gets consumed), you can instead disguise yourself as that individual without the penalties such impersonation normally provides. You monster.

Vile Regeneration (Su): You get Fast Healing 1 for a minute, usable 3+Cha/day. This slowly scales as you level, up to Fast Healing 5 at 20. The amount of healing this grants per round is largely impractical for combat, but it doesn’t hurt to have it on if you’re getting hit, and between fights this is a useful way to try and top yourself off.

Vestigial Bond (Companion): You can grow ½ EBL gourd leshies (Small-sized pumpkin-headed plant people) that can understand you and do your bidding. The purpose of this is really unclear; they have a tiny amount of sneak attack and can stash tiny items in their heads, but beyond that, I have no idea what this is useful for. It’s also unclear what happens if they die - can you grow more, or do you have to wait until the pact ends? Anyway, at low levels they can give you a bit of extra damage, but even then you’re pretty much always better off with the gargoyle form, and this only becomes more true as you level. They’re also not familiars, so no sharing your powers with them.

Overall rating: Good. Hollow Eyes makes you a literal beast in combat, capable of taking on superior numbers if used properly. Use his flight to dive the enemy’s backline and let loose with your confusion song, then snatch up an enemy that made its save and fly up into the air. If they survive your attacks, feel free to let gravity do the rest, and repeat. Caster PMs will probably want to look elsewhere however. Just be careful of his rather creepy influence and you should be fine.

Humble Ohbai, Servant of the Elements (DC 20)

Summary: This jovial djinn helps support your allies and push your enemies around.

Constellation: Scholar

Ceremony: You place traces of the seven elements (earth, fire, air, water, metal, wood and void) in a brazier and call his name. Per an earlier designer clarification, “void” in this context is represented by a puff of smoke, mist or fog.

Totems: (1) You use costly elements (50gp total.) For Water, try Evian. (2) You can speak all 4 elemental languages. (3) You pact with Ohbai in a caravan, trade city or on another plane.

Sign (Passive): Your breath is misty.

Sign (Active): You briefly shrink and regrow. The duration for this is “in an instant” as opposed to other active signs, so you can’t use this to escape enclosures (though his Major can be used for that anyway.)

Influence: You become humble and pilot to everyone, even enemies.  This shouldn’t impede you much - it’s possible to be humble and polite to someone even while you’re kicking their ass after all, and nothing about this requires you to obey them either.

Favored Ally (Likes): Elementals and Genies (surprise, surprise.)

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): Any other outsider. His feelings on geniekin (e.g. Ifrits) are unclear.

Major Ability: 

Genie Jaunt (Su): You can teleport up to EBL creatures  within 30ft. (including yourself) a small distance away from their starting positions. Unwilling targets get a will save to negate. This starts at 5ft., with an additional +5ft./4 binder levels you possess. (This means you get 10ft teleportation pretty soon after first being able to bind him.) The benefits of this are numerous, though somewhat subtle; here are some tricks you can pull off to make the most of this:

Capstone Empowerment: You can Jaunt (or make someone else jaunt) as an immediate action, however if you use this version, you can only affect one target. As you might expect, immediate teleportation has even more benefits - getting a vulnerable teammate out of an area of effect or full-attack sequence before it lands, blocking an enemy’s charge, saving an ally who’s about to fall etc. You can choose whether you want the standard multi-move or the immediate single-move when you activate. His high-ish binding DC makes this one difficult to grab early on however.

Minor Abilities:

Elemental Ascension (Su): For up to EBL rounds/day (divided as you choose) you  gain resistance to acid, cold, fire, electricity and sonic as an immediate action; the resistance granted = your EBL. You also have a constant feather fall effect and don’t need to breathe. While those last two can be pretty useful, the resistance itself is a bit small to be much use against most energy attacks.

Elemental Tongue (Su): You can talk to all elementals as though affected by tongues. This is useful when giving orders to summoned elementals (such as the fiendish ones Forash can give you) if you don’t already have the elemental languages. His vestigial companion is also an elemental, so this helps there too. Note however that this doesn’t actually give you the elemental languages themselves, so if you want to talk to non-elementals (e.g. a sidebar with your party druid) you’ll have to do it the old-fashioned way.

Genie Steeds (Sp, VB): You can cast phantom steed, as the spell; yours also get an additional ability at 13th level, the ability to plane shift 1/day (with their riders). Thus if things get dicey, you and the group can try to rendezvous on a benign upper plane. It’s unclear if the riders can trigger this themselves or if your input is needed.

Sustenance (Su): You don’t have to eat or drink while bound to Ohbai. You’re still at a level where rations might matter, so if you’re in a campaign where they do, he’s useful for that reason.

Vestigial Bond (Companion): You get an elemental familiar of your choice (as the Improved Familiar feat.) These are Small, and therefore they can help out a bit in a fight (especially early on) by threatening squares if you need them to, but being familiars you’re probably better off keeping them out of combat. Earth is probably the most generally useful due to its ability to scout for you underground via earth glide, but you should select based on the needs of your campaign (e.g. water for an aquatic game.). While most of the shareable abilities are redundant, letting it activate your Jaunts for you can free up your actions for other things, and with Elemental Tongue you can give it orders mid-fight without tipping off enemies. The ability you give up for this however is pretty strong.

Overall rating: Good. Ohbai is a solid choice - his influence is mild, his major ability is useful both for combat and utility, and his steeds are utility through and through. His companion can also add useful utility, albeit at the expense of your steeds. He works better as a secondary spirit than on his own however, so you may want to wait a level until you have a second slot available.

Imitreyes, The Dreamkeeper (DC 20)

Summary: A quick synopsis of what the spirit is and what it gets you.

Constellation: Mage

Alignment: LE

Ceremony: You wear a blindfold and sit quietly.

Totems: (1) You draw his seal with 2k worth of powdered rubies. It’s unclear if these are reusable, but even if they are, picking them back up would be difficult. (2) You sully Vodavox’s seal, preventing a pact with that spirit. (3) You destroy a leng spider’s mandibles during the ceremony. (note - Leng Spiders are Huge, so their mandibles are unlikely to fit in your pouch - and if you want to go hunting one, they are CR 14!)

Sign (Passive): Your legs become hooved and twisted. This doesn’t affect your footwear. You tongue also becomes long and barbed.

Sign (Active): Worthless rubies erupt out of your skin like scabs.

Influence: You become fickle and very nosy towards new people. “As much as possible” is difficult to benchmark, and you could spend all day digging into the sordid lives of every peasant you meet. Check with your GM; using his mind scan ability may suffice.

Favored Ally (Likes): Outsiders from “Leng” and “Illithrix.” Judging from the Love’s Tapestry companion story, the latter are pretty much what they sound like.

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): Leng Spiders.

Major Ability:

Dream Fog (Su, VB): You create a fog cloud (as the spell) that puts targets to sleep if they fail a will save. Targets who fall asleep can make a save every round to wake up. This is basically a mass save or die, but be careful where you place it because it can affect allies too. You yourself are immune, as is your vestigial companion (including, as written, companions that don’t come from him.) As written, this can last longer than its cooldown, and there is no language here keeping you from creating more fogs while previous ones exist, letting you blanket the battlefield in sleep gas if enough time passes. Even if your GM rules this one out though, it’s still useful for shuttng down a 4x4 cube of enemies.

Capstone Empowerment: You can see through your dream fog. This effectively grants you total concealment from most foes, while still letting you target them - quite deadly, even if they manage to stay awake.

Minor Abilities:

Aberrant Lash (Su, Sign): Your barbed tongue can be used to make melee touch attacks - successful hits cause 1d4 Dex damage. Your tongue can also hold objects (not weapons.) While dex damage and touch attacks are both nice, you might end up in melee for a while before you can deal enough with this to be worthwhile.

Aberrant Physiology (Su, Sign): You constantly have 5% fortification per EBL (max 75%). While this gets decent eventually, it’s mediocre to start. It doesn’t cost you anything to have it on though, even actions.

Compelling Voice (Sp): You can make a suggestion, as the spell, at-will! Though you only get one per target, you can wreak havoc with this, especially if you use your fog to keep foes guessing as to where the orders are coming from. With only one per target, make your suggestions count.

Mind Scan (Su): You can detect a single target’s thoughts (as the spell) at will. There are lots of uses for knowing what people around you are thinking, and this can help you make relevant suggestions too. If you can make them fail a will save in combat though, you’ve got better things to be doing with it. The action for this is unclear - the spell takes 3 rounds to work, but the wording here suggests that you skip to round 3 of concentration.

Vestigial Bond (Companion): This is the first VB we’ve seen that actually replaces a major ability; you get a tumor familiar as an alchemist, letting you choose any Tiny or Diminutive creature from the wizard familiar list. In addition to the wide variety of familiar bonuses, the familiar gets a major ability of its own -  it can climb into your head and boost the save DC of Imiteyes’ other abilities used that turn. this is a standard action (the familiar’s, not yours) and has a 5 round cooldown like any other major ability. The ideal one-two punch here is for the familiar to power you up nd then you immediately land a suggestion. For combat, the fog is probably more useful, but the familiar abilities and save DC boost ability can come in very handy in more social situations.

Overall rating: Good. While other spirits can mess with minds, few are quite as effective at removing targets from combat entirely eearly on as Imitreyes is, and his abilities are useful outside of combat too. Reading minds and making suggestions gives you quite the edge in negotiations. Just be sure to clear up the extent of his influence with your GM.

Lady Jarah, Mistress of Many Faces (DC 19)

Summary: This vain spirit teaches you how to use your looks to get far ahead in life.

Constellation: Thief

Ceremony: You tell one of her stories to a mirror.

Totems: (1) Your 4 ranks in Perform (Oratory) let you tell her at length how cool she is; (2) You’re female or have long hair; (3) You’re wearing snazzy threads as a focus (75gp+.)

Sign (Passive): You smell great. Bind her before a hot date?

Sign (Active): Your skin shines like a mirror briefly. In case you couldn’t tell, Jarah likes being the center of attention.

Influence: In every negotiation you make you want something for yourself. Most PCs do this anyway, so this is one of the easiest ones to live with. You also become vain and constantly want compliments.

Favored Ally (Likes): Female humanoids and doppelgangers..

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): Males who can’t Perform. Nyuk nyuk.

Major Ability: 

Aura of Distracting Beauty (Su): You strike a pose, fascinating all nearby creatures (30ft) with your hot bod for 1 round (will negates). This is a mind-affecting emotion ability and will not function on creatures with more HD than you. As a reminder, fascinated creatures can’t take actions, though threatening actions of your own (ike your allies approaching them) will grant them a new save, while obviously hostile actions like drawing a weapon will break it entirely. The short duration plus the number of caveats this ability has mires it in mediocrity.

Capstone Empowerment: You can now fascinate creatures with more HD than you, however they get a hefty +4 bonus on their will save. Most enemies above your HD are probably going to have strong saves too, and even weaker-willed monsters are going to benefit from a +4 to their save, so chances are this will be wasted on them too.

Minor Abilities:

Across All Cultures (Su): You can speak new languages =your Cha bonus, chosen each time you pact with Jarah. Secret languages are off-limits (e.g. no Druidic allowed) but others are fair game. Nice when you need it but unlikely to come up often. Combos well with her alter self ability (e.g. you can turn into a Drow who also speaks Drow for an infiltration mission.)

Beauty Without Peer (Sp): You can cast sanctuary 3+Cha/day, preventing anyone who fails their save from attacking you directly. Like the spell, this works regardless of range or awareness, so even  attackers you can’t see (like ambushers, invisible attackers or distant snipers) will have a hard time targeting you, and it helps you move about the battlefield safely as well. So long as they don’t save or you don’t attack them you can keep this up pretty much indefinitely. Unfortunately, enemies that do successfully save become immune for 24 hours, not needing to save further, so be careful. This gets broken if you attack; check with your DM whether your Distracting Beauty ability qualifies. Note however that even if you break the effect by attacking a target, only that target gains the 24hr immunity -  his allies are still susceptible and so you can reapply it on the following round, forcing more saves.

Rewrite Self (Sp, VB): Jarah lets you shapeshift into a wide variety of other humanoid(ish) forms, 3+EBL/day. This starts out duplicating alter self, and as you level, you gain access to the monstrous physique line (1-4) and even the giant form line (1-2). There are some powerful combat and utility forms here, and since these are all some flavor of humanoid, you get to keep all your armor/equipment in every single one.

Story Weaving (Su): You gain a bonus on Bluff and Perform (Oratory) as well as the ability to take 10 on these. Note that the Bluff bonus applies to all uses, e.g. feinting, and being able to take 10 can get you out of some hairy situations as well. It’s quite possible to have a guaranteed 20+ bluff check at level 3 with this. Note that this makes the Thief bluff bonus redundant, so pick one of the other options that constellation gives you instead.

Vestigial Bond (Companion): You gain a parrot familiar (as wizard.) Parrots have identical stats to ravens - except the skill bonus, which thankfully is swapped from Appraise to the much more useful Linguistics. Score! Parrots make good scouts in general; innocuous appearance, solid Perception mod, and they can even report on what they’ve seen. Yours in particular can fascinate targets and cast sanctuary to get out of dodge (plus you get a new one with every pact), so don’t be afraid to send it into more dangerous situations to get info than you’d normally send a familiar. And unlike ravens, they’re also less threatening/out of place in polite society - you should be able to smuggle your exotic talking parrot into any social engagement, and it even gets your bonus to tell stories and lie.

Overall rating: Excellent. Jarah gives you solid offense and defense, and is useful for melee, ranged, and caster binders alike. You unlock your second vestige slot shortly after being able to bind her; when you do, feel free to combine her with a vestige that emphasizes whichever direction you want to build in. She lets Charismatic binders get a lot of mileage out of that stat. Her biggest drawback is the short duration on her Major ability, and the HD cap isn’t great either. But her other powers more than make up for it, and she stays powerful and useful all the way up.

Lord Foxglove IV, Exchequer of the Stolen Purse (DC 17)

Summary: This lascivious lemure gives you deep pockets (literally) and helps you leave your opponents wide open to your assault.

Constellation: Dragon

Ceremony: You dress up fancy and duke it out with Foxglove (mentally, anyway) over a fancy dinner. Quite civil as pacts go.

Totems: (1) You pact in a princely place. (2) You bring a magic rapier with you (it is not consumed, thankfully.) (3) You bring in a piece of clothing from someone you previously had relations with.

Sign (Passive): You get a fox-shaped birthmark on your neck.

Sign (Active): The fox runs around your face.

Influence: You become a hedonist and dislike being interrupted while at         play. How long you have to spend… “indulging” is not specified, so try to keep it short for the party’s sake.

Favored Ally (Likes): Female humanoids.

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): Male humanoids. (This guy would get along swimmingly with Jarah…)

Major Ability: 

Curse Rivals (Su): You inflict a random minor spellblight (a curse effect) onto a foe within 30 ft, will negates; this lasts for minutes/EBL. There are unfortunately only two good ones (Eldritch Ague and Ritualistic Obsession) out of ten, so your chances of landing a good one are slim.

At level 10 this upgrades to inflicting Major Spellblights instead.

Capstone Empowerment: Penalize two checks instead of one. AC + Saves are good choices for most fights, or attack rolls if you’re fighting something painful.

Minor Abilities:

Foxglove’s Finesse: Weapon Finesse and Improved Critical in one. Unfortunately, these do nothing if you have both. (Note: it is currently unclear whether FF and IC/keen stack. More to come.)

Mark of Seduction: I’m a big fan of no-save-just-suck abilities, and this is no exception. The touch range is not thrilling, but you can get around it by using your fox companion. Touch an enemy and penalize their saves vs. charm/compulsion (up to -6), as well as make it easier to Diplomacy them. What’s truly nice about this is that the creature needs to pass a sense motive to even notice you’ve done something special (though note, your damn neck tattoo might give you away here.) This can get you past many stuffy officials, bureaucrats and other gatekeeper NPCs. It also makes an enemy eligible for Curse Rivals, though it does not make landing that any easier. If you penalize their saves with this and follow up with Curse Rivals, you can give an enemy up to -8 to their save vs. compulsion, leaving them ripe for...

Hold Person (VB): Like N’aliya’s charm, “X Person” effects (i.e. humanoids only) wear out their welcome quickly, but this is handy for awhile even if it is only one target at a time, and you get it at the same level as a cleric. Use it like a Witch’s Slumber Hex. As mentioned above, a good combo here is Mark of Seduction - > Curse Rivals, then Hold Person on the following round while they have -3 to -8 to their saving throw. Or you can use a compulsion/charm granted by another spirit. A pity you can’t use this AND the Fox, otherwise you could double-debuff and freeze them all in one round.

Pockets of Holding: One of the pockets of the coat you wore to pact with Foxglove becomes a Bag of Holding, scaling in power/capacity as you gain levels. This is handy but there are also unanswered questions with it. (Note: what happens when the pact runs out or you take the coat off?)

Vestigial Bond (Companion): You get a fox familiar (as wizard) in place of Hold Person. It can’t use your pockets or Hold, nor does it do much with FF,  but it can be used to subtly deliver your Mark and Curse. Still, outside of social-heavy campaigns , not the best choice (and perhaps not even then, as polite society may frown on you bringing a fox everywhere, or even try to hunt it.) The reflex bonus is nice though.

Overall rating: Okay. Foxglove is very narrow in focus, but he makes a decent choice for a social campaign, augmenting your already strong social skills if people don’t mind you getting a bit touchy-feely first.

Mute Sylvus, Sole Survivor (DC 17)

Summary: This surly elf spirit makes you a pretty good shot in spurts - but offers little else.

Constellation: Tree

Ceremony: You say his name. Finally, a simple one.

Totems: (1) Pact in the deep forest. (2) You are an elf/half-elf, or have 2 ranks in Profession (Hunter) so you know bird-calls. (3) You sacrifice the beak of a “monstrous bird.”

Sign (Passive): You rolled in a bird’s nest - a thorny one.

Sign (Active): None.

Influence: You clam up.

Favored Ally (Likes): Any humanoid with Survival ranks.

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): Any magical beast.

Major Ability: 

Strike True: Like the spell it is named for, this power gives you a hefty untyped bonus on your next attack roll.  Unlike True Strike, however, this is a swift action, so you can trigger the bonus and attack in one turn. The bonus is +10, but you get the full +20 if you’re using a bow, gearing Sylvus towards ranged Pactmakers. It’s pretty nice that this is a swift, but the cooldown and single attack does hurt its usefulness somewhat. Combos very well with Deadly Aim, Power Attack, Vital Strike, and poison. Also helps you land a tricky maneuver like a grapple or disarm, though of course that means you’re probably using it for melee.

Capstone Empowerment: You can cut the bonus in half (i.e. +10 with bows, +5 without) to apply it to a number of attacks on your turn equal to your Cha bonus, capping at 5. Needless to say, +10 untyped to all your attacks in a full attack routine is pretty nice and will help you rain down quite a lot of pain as an archer. The +5 to all melee attacks isn’t too bad either. Note that you can choose which attacks to add it to, so if you have more attacks than you can apply the boost (for example your Cha bonus is low, or you’re combining things like Haste and Rapid Shot), you can shift the bonus to your less-accurate iteratives and have a decent chance of landing all of them. Combine with Vandrae and a hefty initiative (such as from your Pact Augmentations) and you can put a lot of pain in the air before the enemy can so much as blink.

Minor Abilities:

Fast Movement: You get a scaling enhancement bonus (+10ft.) to move speed. This isn’t too impressive - it scales slowly (+20 at 9 and +30 at 15) and, being enhancement, doesn’t stack with similar effects like Haste. It’s okay if you have nothing else but won’t stay relevant long.

Improvise Weapons: You take no penalty with improvised or broken weapons. You honestly shouldn’t be using any in the first place.

Master Hunter: You get a bonus to Survival and low-light vision; if you already have LLV, your eyes get sharper. Chances are you won’t need these; Tree can help you deal with both starvation and getting lost if either is a concern, and his influence is mild so you don’t even have to go all out to make the binding check.

Peerless Archer (VB): You gain shortbow and longbow proficiency, as well as the benefit of the Precise Shot feat. This is particularly useful before you gain these abilities yourself e.g. by dipping. Unfortunately if you plan to be a dedicated ranged Pactmaker, chances are you will want PS anyway since so many other archery feats demand it, making this ability redundant.

Vestigial Bond: You have to go get one yourself - Sylvus gives you the power to form a bond with any friendly creature, sharing his granted abilities with it as though that creature were your Vestigial Bond. This actually gives you a unique trick - “creature” can be literally anyone, so you could therefore share Sylvus’ powers with a party member. Unfortunately, this ability gives you no control over that creature; even if it’s friendly, lacking the control that a familiar grants you, or even the more limited bond of the animal companion, can be a pain. In particular you have no real control over when your “companion” fires off your major ability, and you both get stuck with the cooldown regardless of which one actually used it. The minor abilities you get to share aren’t really worthwhile either. This ability is perhaps the worst of the companions and can even actively hurt you. To top things off, there’s no way to revoke the powers you give them except for ending the entire pact. And the one power you might want to share - free bow proficiency and Precise Shot - just happens to be the one you give up to access this. Having said that though, letting the monk borrow your true strike just before he tries wrestling that golem will at least make you his best friend.

Overall rating: Poor. Sylvus isn’t much to write home about. His seemingly useful major is hamstrung by its brief duration and cooldown, and the rest of his abilities are lukewarm at best. He’s an okay choice for an archer Pactmaker, but there are honestly better spirits out there even then. Tree is a mediocre constellation as well, though at least it gives you another option for keeping everyone nourished on a survival trek. The health it can give everyone per day is really starting to be inadequate however.

Tyrant Cromwell, the Black Knight (DC 18)

Summary: This brutal shade makes you a melee powerhouse. In true evil overlord fashion, he gives you a sneaky, snivelling sidekick to boot.

Constellation: Hero (?!)

Ceremony: You smear the blood of a recently-slain enemy onto a cloth. RAW your spell component pouch will contain what you need even if it doesn’t make sense; if you haven’t slain anyone recently and your DM gives   you grief over this, kill a rat or some other vermin that you hate, keeping the blood.

Totems: (1) You are evil, an orc, or a half-orc. (2) You have 11+ Str. (3) You know the black knight’s epitome, requiring either 4 ranks in Know (Religion), or 1 level of antipaladin.

Sign (Passive): You become Aryan. Gee, whatever could they be hinting at? (Be wary of your race - a drow or fetchling with blonde hair and blue eyes is probably going to stick out like a sore thumb for instance.)

Sign (Active): A sinister shadow hides your face briefly. Feel free to throw in a menacing chuckle while you’re at it.

Influence: You become somewhat axe-crazy, similar to Hessant but even meaner, and a bit manic as well. Let someone else handle the prisoners and do the talking if you’re under this guy’s influence.

Favored Ally (Likes): Any, alignment CE.

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): Any, alignment LG.

Major Ability: 

Vestigial Might: For 1d4 rounds you get a profane bonus to Strength - +2 until 10th, after which it becomes +4. It’s not the most dramatic ability out there, but profane is such a rare bonus it may as well be untyped for stacking purposes, so this is nice for that reason. It’s a swift action too, so you can pump up and then full-attack. Str also applies to both CMB and CMD, helping you dish out and resist a variety of nasty maneuvers/effects alike. Note: a nice trick to make this last longer is to use Empower Granted Ability, which will boost the variable duration of this power.

Capstone Empowerment: The bonus goes up by another +2 (so +4 and +6, respectively.)

Minor Abilities:

Indiscernible Alignment: Your alignment can’t be divined. This is pretty helpful if there’s a paladin around, or your evil party needs to infiltrate some goody-goody temple, or on a villain  against the PCs. Amusingly, you can use this just as easily in reverse, e.g. a good-aligned Pactmaker wanting to infiltrate a fiendish cult, and creates the interesting paradigm of battling Cromwell’s influence the whole time to keep himself from gleefully hacking them all to ribbons.

Phantom Armor: You get a constant +2 insight bonus to AC. This scales pretty quickly (+3 at 6, +4 at 9 and so on up to+7 at level 18) and stacks with the more usual sources of AC (armor, shield, natural, deflection, dodge etc) so Cromwell is a pretty decent spirit choice for a gish. Best of all, this applies to your touch AC, flatfooted AC, and even to your CMD, as well as even applying if you change forms.

Savage Attacks (VB): You get the benefit of the Power Attack and Vital Strike feats for free, freeing up valuable feats for a gish Pactmaker build. Fortunately, this is also the ability you trade for your Vestigial Bond, so if you end up getting the feats later then this ability isn’t wasted - just elect for the familiar each time (unless you have a better companion of course, in which case you can simply absorb the loss).

Weapon Familiarity: You gain proficiency with the Greatsword, Lance and Garotte. Not the best set of weapons around, but they have their uses. He doesn’t actually give you these weapons though, so you’ll have to find your own.

Vestigial Bond: You trade Savage Attacks for a unique familiar - a nuglub gremlin. Fey familiars are quite rare and it’s a nice creature type to have as few spells/effects target fey specifically. Perhaps the best ability this little guy brings to the table is at-will prestidigitation, but other advantages include: high stealth and perception, decent trap crafting, small size (i.e. threatens squares and flanks) the ability to hold items/open doors/etc. 120 ft. darkvision and low-light vision,  at-will heat metal/shocking grasp/snare (1 hr. cooldown on these), and 20 ft. climb speed. 1/hour snare and enough rope can help you booby-trap a stronghold, and the traps last for the duration of your pact or until triggered/broken. Note that the gremlin shares Cromwell’s abilities with you, meaning he gains Phantom Armor and your Garotte proficiency, which gives him some neat combat uses. Be sure to get him a garotte and have him sneak up behind an unsuspecting spellcaster whenever possible. If you have Cromwell bound and no better choices among companions, you can get a lot of mileage out of his gremlin. The gremlin has bonuses to trip and grapple (the latter of which will help him with his garotting) and has decent AC thanks to Phantom Armor, but don’t rely on it too much in a fight if he hasn’t gotten the drop on your foe.

Overall rating: Good. Cromwell is a nice secondary choice for a gish, particularly since he’s one of the few spirits who is just as effective even if you have poor Cha - none of his abilities care about it. Caster Pactmakers will like the AC bonus but there isn’t much else here for them. Cromwell’s Phantom Armor makes him a nice tank, keeping his AC decent even if you shapeshift or use a 2-hander; combined with his active ability, you’re pushed towards a hulking, power-attacking/charging build. His lance proficiency goes well with any of the mount companions, like Hessant’s or Nalyia’s.

Ubro, the Blind Hospitaler (DC 17)

Summary: This sappy spirit grants you a variety of healing powers and some defense.

Constellation: Angel

Ceremony: You blindfold yourself and light incense.

Totems: (1) you are good-aligned OR possess 4 ranks in Heal. (2) You are a halfing, OR are the eldest of your siblings (note: cannot be an only-child to count as “eldest.”) (3) You recite the hippocratic oath, which requires either 2 ranks of profession (Healer) or 1 level of cleric.

Sign (Passive): Your iris/pupils disappear. (You can still see.)

Sign (Active): A “mark of healing” appears on your chest. (Red Cross? Caduceus? Ankh?)

Influence: You become a healing doormat. Be careful as your DM may rule that this applies to the enemy too; even the healer can annoy the party if the enemy calls out for healing and you rush to obey.

Favored Ally (Likes): All animals, and anyone who is LG.

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): Anyone who is evil.

Major Ability: 

Healing Surge -  You gain a cleric’s channel energy, at full strength (i.e. 2d6 when you get Ubro, up to 10d6), usable only to heal. This is unlimited, however any given creature can only benefit 3 + Cha times (minimum 1) per day. In practice, this means that for your party the channel will be just as if a cleric or life oracle were using it - you won’t exactly run out, but after X applications they will cease to gain HP from it, so save it for when it is needed. However, it also means you have freedom to run around town healing NPCs, summons or called creatures, animals and children etc. too.

Capstone Empowerment: You can channel as a move action by reducing the amount healed by half. It’s unclear if you are eligible for Quick Channel so this may be handy (especially if you don’t want to blow a feat on Quick Channel anyway) but what’s really nice about this is that it doesn’t lower the healing limit per person per day (i.e. it still counts as 1 application of healing despite taking less time), so you can freely use this and still use another major in the same round.

Minor Abilities:

Heal Aches: 1/day/target, you can remove the blind or deafened condition from a creature. Not likely to come up, but if it ever does you’ll be glad you have it. Can help you treat an ally who accidentally got his retinas blasted by Serapith.

Healer’s Hands: You get an untyped bonus on Heal checks, and the time it takes you to treat poison, disease, or any wounds with the Heal skill is reduced by half. Magical healing is generally better but for a low-level or grittier campaign it’s nice to be able to bind Ubro and and get to patch people up more easily. It’s unclear what half of a standard action (in the case of treating poison) is - a move action? A swift?

Sand Skin (VB): You gain DR/Piercing that scales as you level, later improving to DR/Magic and Piercing, and then DR/Evil and Piercing. This scales up to DR 7 at 18th level, close to what an Invulnerable Rager gets. However, piercing damage is unfortunately common (arrows/claws/bites etc.) and lots of later monsters apply magic and evil to their attacks automatically too, so this is too often bypassed and unlikely to rise above “okay.”

Status: You get a Status ability usable at-will, but unfortunately this isn’t quite as beneficial as it initially sounds. It is instantaneous rather than lasting for hours, so basically you can use it to touch someone and find out if they are affected by a negative condition at that point in time, but not to monitor them on an ongoing basis (which would help you catch some harmful conditions, like disease, during their onset) or cast beneficial spells on them at range.

Vestigial Bond: Ubro doesn’t actually give you a companion in the normal sense - rather, you form a bond between yourself and up to Cha mod other creatures. Doing this allows you to trade d6s of your channel ability and heal that many d6s of ability damage afflicting your bondees instead. Each one can have a total points of ability damage cured each day equal to your EBL. This is quite powerful, on par with Naberius in terms of how much ability damage you can heal in a day, and best of all you can share it with others instead of it being self-only. Combined with your Healer’s Hands and Ubro can really help you not fear poisons and diseases. I consider this to be a decent trade for Sand Skin and your party will likely agree.

Overall rating: Okay. Ubro has some very nice support abilities, but he functions best as a secondary or even tertiary vestige, i.e. when you have additional spirit slots, or another power source to draw on entirely such as spells. He is particularly useful on one of the occult archetypes that let non-healing classes (like Monks and Sorcerers) bind spirits, but for a pure Pactmaker he leaves a bit to be desired on his own. The sheer amount of healing he can pour out in a day (especially to multiple targets) is pretty phenomenal - when you get him, assuming 18 Cha, you can pump out around 14d6 (2d6 * 7) per person in one day, which is definitely a nice top-up at level 3. However, the cooldown makes him less reliable for in-combat care - you’ll probably only channel once or twice per fight - and he completely lacks offensive abilities. At the very least, he is better at healing than the 3.5 vestige Buer. If you plan to use him a lot, be sure to pick up Selective Channeling at a minimum so you’re not refilling the enemy too., or at least position the party appropriately. With his influence, be wary of making a poltergeist out of him.

PMU2:

3rd-Level

Muse Istago, Painter of Paradox (DC 19)

Summary: This artistic apparition makes you a master illusionist, lets you spy on your foes and even draw buffs into your party.

Constellation: Seer

Ceremony: You get high (for inspiration, duuuuude) and paint some aspect of yourself.

Totems: (1) You have either 6 ranks in Craft (Painting) or Profession (Painter). (I recommend the former.) (2) You either are no longer, or never were, nobility. (3) You slept at least an hour before the ceremony.

Sign (Passive): Your skin and clothes are spattered with paint that can’t be washed off.

Sign (Active): A swirl of color briefly surrounds you. It’s unclear whether it floats in the air around you (3D) or just moves across your clothing/armor/skin (2D); check with your DM.

Influence: You become a doormat when you’re around people, but prefer to be alone. As with Ubro, if you fall under this guy’s influence, be careful not to let enemies/unfriendlies prevail upon your obsequious nature.

Favored Ally (Likes): Anyone with artistic Craft or Profession ranks. (Performing arts don’t count, sadly.)

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): Any nobility.

Major Ability: 

Paint Reality: This lets you “paint” a Major Image, as the spell, with a CL equal to your EBL. To summarize:

- The duration of your painting is “24 hours” instead of “Concentration + 3 rounds,” giving you the freedom to do other things while your image exists. However, to move or direct it, you must still concentrate.

- You start off with up to nine 10ft. cubes to work with (shapeable), both for creating and moving your “painting,” and gain an extra cube with each level.

- Your image can speak, but it must be a language you can speak as well or it will produce gibberish (Jarah can help you with languages you don’t know.)

-  As with all figments, your painting can be attacked - it has an AC of 10 + size mod, and you must make it react appropriately or it will disappear.

- Your painting can produce sounds, smells and thermal effects.

- The cooldown starts after you activate it, so you can have a second painting ready to go while the first is still active.

- You can only have one painting out at a time.

As with all illusions, how useful this is depends a great deal on your DM; who you can fool with it, how enemies will react to it, any combat applications etc. As such, this ability is hard to rate objectively and will need to be adjusted depending on your own DM’s adjudication of illusions. The more your DM balks at illusions in combat, the less useful this power becomes. Out of combat however, it’s as useful as your imagination lets it be. This does have an inherent advantage over most illusions of course - namely, the autoscaling disbelief save.

Capstone Empowerment: Muse Istago has perhaps the most powerful augment in pact magic- the ability to give life to his drawings, and even paint over the land itself. At first, this empowers your painting to be a Persistent Image rather than Major Image, i.e. letting it move/act according to a script set by you without needing concentration. Note that acing your binding check gives you access to Persistent Image at 5th level, a whopping 6 levels earlier than an Illusionist gets it, and furthermore yours lasts for 24 hours instead of min./level. In addition, as you gain level, this ability grows much stronger, as follows:

- At 9th-level, you gain the ability to paint hallucinatory terrain. Since you can only have one painting out at a time, this loses it’s primary source of usefulness, i.e. fake moat around your stronghold or whatever, but it’s great if you’re being chased by something nasty and landbound if they think there’s a giant mire or pit of lava in the way. You can also use it to cover up pit traps, at least per the example in the 3.5 PHB..

- At 11th-level you can paint a permanent image. This is pointless  since your paintings end when the pact does no matter what, and again you can only have one out at a time.

- At 11th-level your scenery-painting gets upgraded to mirage arcana. This is great for one reason - lots of hiding places on demand, though of course the party does have to actually make the effort (i.e. stealth checks) here.

- At 13th-level you gain the ultimate benefit of Muse Istago - the ability to paint a simulacrum, substituting your EBL for your CL. As this power is supernatural, your simulacra cost you no material components at all - letting you create a copy of any creature your EBL will allow free of charge. When you first learn this, your chosen subject can have up to 26HD; though they come out at half-strength, this can still enable you to summon nightmarishly strong backup. Have fun painting Balors (well, half-strength Balors anyway.) If you choose to use this, be sure to work out with your DM what abilities your creations will have, which they won’t and which will be altered ahead of time to minimize table bickering. Your DM may also call for checks - either Knowledge or Craft (Painting) or even both - to successfully paint a given creature. Regardless - free, standard-action simulacrum is solid gold, even if you only get one and the DM gets to choose its powers. Update: the author has expressed the desire to tone this down, likely by restricting you to equal-HD paintings instead of twice-HD as the spell. Even with that restriction the ability will be highly useful, since you’ll still be painting disposable minions for free, and “summoning” them even in places where traditional summons are prohibited.

Minor Abilities:

Dreams of the Muse: You gain the ability to scry at will as though using the spell scrying. You require no focus, instead falling asleep and dreaming of the target. (Note - this makes you helpless for 1 hour + however long you scry, so keep friends around you, hide in some painted terrain or at least have a painting stand guard.)  If the target saves they are immune for 24 hours, otherwise you can use this pretty much indefinitely. Unlike the spell, you cannot cast any other spells or abilities through the sensor. Aside from not needing a focus however, Muse Istago has another unique benefit over the spell - you can also scry on places/locations with this, increasing its usefulness tenfold as locations get no saving throw. It’s unclear what happens if you’re afflicted with Nightmare or similar during this ability.

Keen Eye: You gain an insight bonus to the two painting skills, as well as to Perception and Sense Motive. The painting skills are meh, but the other two skills are extremely important so this ability is quite welcome.

Mirrored Eyes: You gain an untyped bonus on saving throws vs gaze attacks, plus a chance to reflect gaze attacks back onto attackers. This will rarely see use, but it’s passive, so the few times it does come up you’ll be glad you have it. Note the reflection ability requires you to succeed on your saving throw, so successfully averting or closing your eyes means you also give up the reflect on that round as well.

Perfect Attributes (VB): You can give a number of creatures = your Cha mod (including yourself) an enhancement bonus to one ability score of your choice for the duration of your pact. Though it scales slowly, it lasts 24 hours, and you can always target a different ability score than the target has buffed, so it stays useful all the way up until everyone in the party has Belts of Physical Perfection and Headbands of Mental Superiority, i.e. enhancement bonuses to all their scores. When that happens, simply get the familiar instead.

Vestigial Bond: You gain a Chameleon familiar (as wizard.) This has the same stats as a lizard. This means you get the typical familiar benefits (e.g. Alertness) and a bonus to Climb checks of all things. Unlike Jarah’s parrot, this guy can’t talk - but he should be able to paint, and shares your illusion abilities if you ever send him out to scout, so just have him paint an image of what he sees. It also shares your Perception buff, making it a great extra pair of eyes in a dungeon. Finally, it can also scry like you, (relaying what it sees through your illusions) and it can reflect gaze attacks for you as well. Have it sleep in your pocket and scry on something while you travel - such as, say, the inside of the dungeon the party is trekking towards. The gaze attack reflection is great because that’s one of the few attacks almost every familiar will have to worry about, and he’s a lot more expendable than a regular familiar would be.

Overall rating: Excellent. Even if your DM is stingy when it comes to illusion benefits, Istago’s free Simulacrums, free Scrying, sharp eyes and free enhancement bonuses still make this spirit worthwhile, particularly since you can scry on locations. Muse Istago has the potential to be one of the most powerful spirits at mid to late game, and since unlocking that power requires his capstone empowerment, you will want a decent Cha to maximize your chances. He also comes attached with a great constellation  (Seer lets you reroll initiative.) Finally, you can also earn some bucks on the side by selling your paintings - they’re not supernatural and so will stick around after your pact ends.

N'alyia, the First Vampire (DC 20)

Summary: (Vampire-noise:) “Bleh!” That sums up her powers, but her companion is pretty good.

Constellation: Skull

Ceremony: You drink the blood of a sentient. As with Cromwell, rat blood can suffice here (the size of the “chalice” is not specified either) in case your DM is less than cooperative regarding the pouch.

Totems: (1) Draw her seal in the dark. (2) You are not bound, and agree not to bind, to any spirits that hate undead (e.g. Ubro.). (3) 6 ranks in Know (Religion) let you set up ritual candles around the circle.

Sign (Passive): You become pale/cold and lose your reflection.

Sign (Active): Your teeth sharpen and drip blood briefly.

Influence: You won’t enter a dwelling unless invited in. Can be funny if the party needs to infiltrate someplace. You also see those weaker than you as prey, though that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll try to eat them every time.

Favored Ally (Likes): Intelligent Undead

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): Any creatures that can channel positive energy or turn undead.

Major Ability: 

Vampiric Jaunt: You can teleport as a swift action... 5 feet away. Whoopie! For an ability with a long cooldown this is pretty criminal. You can explicitly teleport out of grapples, pins and entanglements with this, so that’s something at least - though if you port out of a grapple or pin you end up at your destination prone, needing to burn actions to stand up (and likely provoking since you’re almost certainly still within your tormenter’s reach.) To cap matters, you can only bring a light load with you and cannot teleport into a space containing daylight (either natural or the spell.) A 5-foot teleport is little more than a cruel joke.

Capstone Empowerment: This boosts the ability’s range, making it much more tolerable. You go up to 10 ft. immediately, with an additional 5 ft. every 4 EBL after that (i.e. 15ft. at 9th, 20ft. at 13th, 25 ft. @ 17th.) You’re still restricted to shadows but now at least you have a shot at reaching some. If you bind her at all, try to get that empowerment if you can.

Minor Abilities:

Enthrall: You gain Charm Person at will; a save makes the target immune for 24 hours and you can only have one “thrall” at a time. This would have been much better as Charm Monster, or at least Dominate Person; as it is, there’s too many creatures that can outright ignore this for me to rate it any higher. And even if you land it successfully, Charm’s usefulness depends fairly strongly on your DM’s interpretation of friendship. In a fight, at best this will be like a mini-daze (though against more savage races like Ogres you can probably get a traitorous beatdown among the enemy out of it); out of a fight it becomes much more useful though.

Monstrous Bat Form: You can turn into a monstrous bat hybrid for mins/EBL (hours/EBL at 10th and up), divisible as you choose. Unfortunately, as written, this does nothing but give you a fly speed (equal to your land speed though, which is nice) but with no maneuverability listed (most likely it’s average.) (UPDATE: I asked the designer about this, and he has confirmed that anwhere a maneuverability is not listed, use average.) Since this is a polymorph effect, you also gain the ability to choose whether or not subsequent polymorphs can affect you, as well as immunity to size-changing effects. If your DM is nice, you can argue that this makes you a werebat in hybrid form (giving you its natural attacks); that can get this to blue. But as written you get no attacks from this (though you can at least use your Shadow Bite, since it doesn’t depend on your form), and you probably lose some manufactured weapons too. You’re also locked in for a minimum of 10 rounds. After you get Fey Baraddu, kick N’alyia to the curb.

One With the Night: You gain an insight bonus on flight and stealth checks. Both are useful skills, though there are better spirits that grant stealth bonuses. The main benefit of this ability is giving it to her companion (see below.)

Shadow Bite (VB): You gain a 1d4 bite attack that forces a fort-save vs. Con damage. What’s nice about this is that your shadow does the biting, meaning that if you have a bite attack from another source (e.g. race, another spirit, or your bat form if your DM is nice) you’ll still get this one. You can even use it as a secondary natural attack, and you heal 2 hp for every point of Con damage your shadow bite deals. However, this too is useless in both kinds of daylight, keeping it from a blue rating.

Vestigial Bond: As you might expect, N’alyia sends you a dire bat animal companion (as druid), who replaces your shadow bite. Dire Bats are Large, giving you a flying mount (40ft. good) with a powerful bite. It also copies your charm, shadow jump, and hybrid form abilities. This is one of the better combat companions, but not the best. If you’re fighting in the daytime a lot, trade the bite in every time since it won’t work anyway.

Overall rating: Okay. N’alyia isn’t much to write home about - that major is hardly worth the action, two of her abilities hate daylight, and two rely on favorable DM rulings to be worth anything. Her companion however is solid at this level - a versatile steed that can bear you into battle, ferry the party across a gap, hop through the shadows and strike down your foes from above with you in tow. She’s not very great on her own though, or in the daytime.

Vandrae, Drowess Poisontouch (DC 20)

Summary: This treacherous dark elf teaches you the ways of the assassin.

Constellation: Dark Beyond

Ceremony: You abuse RAW, guzzling spider poison without harm because it is technically injury poison. You munchkin. (Note - spider venom is costly, so this one won’t be in the pouch.)

Totems: (1) you are female, drow, or have murdered someone who loved you. (2) You draw her seal in darkness/shadow. (3) You sacrifice a male humanoid during the ceremony.

Sign (Passive): Your skin darkens.

Sign (Active): You blush head to toe. (What color do drow blush?)

Influence: You toy with your enemies, preferring to leave them alive and humiliate/torture them rather than finish them off. If you fall under her influence, have your allies finish things off.

Favored Ally (Likes): Female drow.

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): Male giants.

Major Ability: 

Sleep Toxin:  You inflict knock-out poison with a touch attack. This is unfortunately a poison effect, which means you will have various resistances and immunities to contend with, but the DC scales which is nice. Your target gets a save every round to break it, and succeeding on one ends the entire effect. Not the best major around but when it works, you and your allies should have little problem finishing them off. Consider it a (very) poor man’s version of the Witch’s Slumber Hex. Note that if you can get the cooldown below 4 rounds, you can actually stack up the poison in their system, increasing the DC and resetting the duration, per the affliction rules.

Capstone Empowerment: Even on a successful save, Vandrae’s poison makes the enemy groggy, taking a -4 penalty on attack rolls and perception checks for 4 rounds. I’m a huge fan of no-save-just-suck effects, particularly long-lasting ones like these. This is an excellent rider and because of the way the poison works, they will get afflicted with this even if they initially fail their save, fall asleep and then succeed/wake up on a later round.

Minor Abilities:

Dark Mantle (VB): You create a stationary globe of magical darkness as a move action. This has no duration, which is quite useful as it will give you enough time in the morning to form pacts with some of the other light-hating spirits like Sevnoir and N’alyia. You can also see through your own darkness field without penalty. Note: This ability has been FAQ’d by the designer - the globe drops prevailing light conditions one step within its radius and can indeed turn off darkvision. As you can still see through it, this makes it much more valuable because you will basically enable sneak attack on most targets.

Guile of Vandrae: Insight bonus to Stealth and Perception. These two skills are quite valuable (and synergize very well with her other powers) so this is a strong ability.

Hide in Plain Sight: This is perhaps one of the easiest ways to get this great ability in Pathfinder. Vandrae grants it one level before even the Shadowdancer gains access, and with no feat investment to boot!

Sneak Attack: You gain half-strength SA, i.e. 5d6 max. Note that this explicitly stacks with any rogue/ninja levels you might possess as well. This combos extremely well with your sleep toxin, letting you knock out a foe and then deal massive CdG damage to one-shot him.

Vestigial Bond: You gain a spider familiar (wizard.) +3 Climb isn’t going to win any awards but it does still give you Alertness. Unfortunately, spider familiars are magical beasts rather than vermin,losing their mind-affecting immunity in the process, but they can still communicate with others of their kind on your behalf. Still, it does gain sneak attack with his bite (if it can reach a vital spot) and is supremely good at stealth recon thanks to Tiny size, as well as sharing both your HiPs and Guile abilities. Finally, it can deliver your Sleep Toxin on your behalf if you prefer to stay distant. You do lose your Dark Mantle to get him though. The only downside to this guy is you’ll need some way to communicate with him if you want to use him as recon, otherwise you’re stuck with the empathic sensing that all familiars get.

Overall rating: Good. Vandrae is quite sneaky, and unlike the previous dark-loving spirits, she actually gives you the means to beshadow your surroundings. She’s also very good at helping you hide once you’ve turned out the lights. Her major, while not stellar due to allowing subsequent saves and being a poison effect, is nevertheless a solid attack and can potentially take a dangerous target out of the fight entirely, plus the no-save debuff augment which is nice as well. Her sneak attack is on par with the vestige Andromalius from the original Binder, giving you a nice damage boost under the right conditions and comboing well with any flankers (such as combat-focused Vestigial Bonds) you may have access to. She is a must-pick for any Pactmaker striving for stealth, and not shabby on a melee Pactmaker either. However, be sure to stock up on spider venom if you plan to bind her regularly. Her weak companion and lack of utility for caster Pactmakers keeps her from excellence however.

Xalen D'Marek, Archivist of Fell Secrets (DC 21)

Summary: This bookworm spirit makes you an insufferable (but valuable) know-it-all.

Constellation: Scholar

Ceremony: You flip through a blank book while calling Xalen’s name.  

Totems: (1) Your book is bound with the skin/leather from an exotic beast (75gp+); (2) You scribble trivia on one page of the book (Any Knowledge 6 ranks); (3) You pact within 10 feet of a school or lab.

Sign (Passive): You get glowing speech bubbles whenever you talk. The language isn’t specified (“sigils”), so no telling if it can be read by an onlooker; likely, it is incomprehensible unless they have comprehend languages or similar magic up.

Sign (Active): The symbols that appear when you speak orbit the target of your abilities briefly.

Influence: You become a grammar troll. Finally, all that intensive training on the internet pays off.

Favored Ally (Likes): Any humanoid with at least 1 rank in a Knowledge skill.

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): Interestingly, you get to choose one from among the following: Aberrations, Dragons, Magical Beasts, Giants or Oozes.

Major Ability: 

Shrink: As the name implies, you shrink either an unattended object (as shrink item) or a creature - reducing the creature two size categories (and affecting its equipment similarly.) In either case it lasts for min./EBL. It’s not clear what happens to items that leave a creature’s possession, e.g. will arrows stay tiny in flight etc. Headaches aside, this has potential against big dumb bruisers and nasty grapplers, bringing them down to the Fighter’s size, and since it’s a will save it’s probably effective against them too. Unfortunately, their speed seems to be unaffected - if it slowed them too I would give it a higher rating. Honestly if you can make them fail a will save there are probably more useful abilities out there, though this can also be used defensively or for utility as well (such as to slip through the bars of your prison.) This ability can actually hurt you when facing ranged attackers - it doesn’t affect their damage (projectiles will revert to normal size mid-flight) and makes their aim better due to the size bonus.

Capstone Empowerment: You can now shrink more than one target at a time, up to a max of your Cha bonus. The wording suggests it increases not just the maximum you can have shrunk, but the number you can shrink with one activation, which is good. However, the duration is powered up a lot too, lasting 24 hours (or until your pact ends.) This can be good or bad, depending on who you were planning to use it on and how much them being smaller is a hindrance to them (or to you.) There doesn’t seem to be a way to dispel it or otherwise end it early, save by prematurely terminating your pact.

Minor Abilities:

Enhance Vessel’s Mind: Xalen makes you quite a scholar - you gain a passive insight bonus to Intelligence, as well as max ranks in an unknown Knowledge skill of your choice. Note that this actually gives you ranks, not merely a bonus, so you can use it to meet certain requirements (such as the Knowledge requirement of another spirit’s totem or, if your pact lasts long enough, the prereq of another feat/PrC.) Use this to pick up obscure knowledges the party may not have covered, like Nobility, History, Geography, Architecture or Dungeoneering.

Forbidden Lore: You get a bonus on Knowledge checks to identify monsters, and a bonus on Spellcraft checks. These are great skills to have, particularly if your party doesn’t have a wizard/bard handy, and combos well with the previous ability.

Locate Writings (VB): You can track down any written work you have seen before. Not a bad ability but I can’t think of too many places it will be useful either. I would almost always go with the bird over this. You can however combo this with Muse Istago’s scrying ability if your target has some kind of writing nearby - for instance, spy on the enemy wizard while he is reading his spellbook, then home in on the book.

Thirst for Knowledge: You gain a constant comprehend languages effect. This doesn’t let you speak or write any of the languages you know however. You also get a bonus vs. symbol/glyph spells in case your wandering eyes read the wrong things. Again, not bad, but not guaranteed to come up either.

Vestigial Bond: You get a raven familiar. Appraise is not a very useful skill to boost, but at least this familiar can read and relay messages. Since he shares your EVM he’ll be pretty smart too, and he can grab yet another obscure knowledge skill to boost the party’s coverage even further. He also gets the same bonuses to spellcraft and knowledge that you do.

Overall rating: Okay. Xalen, like Ubro, is best used as a support vestige - a secondary or tertiary choice, rather than primary. His Major has potential but size modifiers are less powerful in PF, limiting its usefulness used offensively; similarly, using it as a buff for your ranged or dex-based classes is tricky since you have no way of ending the effect early, and is likely to harm melee more than it helps due to the loss of strength and reach. “Situational” is the word of the day with this guy.

Cornelius Button, Gardener of Dreams (DC 18)

Summary: This schizophrenic spirit is actually two vestiges in one, for double the fun. Which one you get is unfortunately random, but getting the side you didn’t prefer isn’t a total deal-breaker either.

Note: Cornelius has two forms - Light Cornelius and Dark Cornelius. This is due to his “Duality of Cornelius” ability, described below. Which one you end up with is random (50/50 shot on a d100) and determined after you have sealed the pact with him but just before you get any of the benefits. The version you end up with determines how some of his abilities work; I will notate the ones this affects below.

Constellation: Tree

Ceremony: You eat bug salad. Eww!

Totems: (1) You draw the seal of the Nivea Nieces and deface it (this totem keeps you from binding them.) (2) You burn 2500 gp of alchemical reagents. Yikes! (3) You pact on a beach, island or near a greenhouse..

Sign (Passive) (“Light”): Your arms are covered with cricket tattoos.

Sign (Passive) (“Dark”): Your arms are covered with butterfly tattos.

Sign (Active): The insects on your arms move around (both versions.)

Influence: You want to draw everyone who you meet for the first time. Just bring some chalk with you (which you’ll have,on you - you’re a binder, after all) and you’re set - hey, nobody says it had to be a GOOD drawing. You also get a hankering for herbal tea, but this can be ignored since it doesn’t say anything about having to drink any.

Favored Ally (Likes) (“Light”): Good Humanoids, Plants, and Magical Beasts.

Favored Ally (Likes) (“Light”): Evil Humanoids, Plants, and Magical Beasts.

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): Whichever the other version considers an ally.

Major Ability: 

Pollen Spray: Both versions of Cornelius fire a spray of pollen in a 20ft. cone, though the effects differ.

(Light): Light Cornelius sprays healing pollen (cures HP = EBL) and each creature can heal a maximum amount = 3x EBL. While the wording is nice enough to not count overheal (only actual healing is counted) this is far too weak to use in combat, even weaker than Ubro’s meager healing, and a major that’s too weak for combat has pretty heavy black marks against it to begin with. (Used in conjunction with his seedling bomb however, this becomes slightly tolerable as a way to save a grenade or two.)

(Dark): You spray Con contact poison wth a scaling DC. Ouch! One save cancels the whole effect though, so it won’t get more than a green rating. On top of that, it’s a poison effect (and so subject to many resistances/immunities), and 20ft. cones are also pretty short, putting you in harm’s way. It beats the weakass heal though, and if enemies are tightly packed you’re probably going to kill/debuff at least one.

Capstone Empowerment: Achieving Capstone improves both abilities considerably. Always try to get Cornelius’ capstone if you plan on binding him (read: be a caster Pactmaker so your Cha is nice and high.)

(Light): Your spray now removes all diseases and poisons on each target, as remove disease and neutralize poison. Very handy when you need it, especially this gets you neutralize poison 2 levels before the cleric does. The 50/50 shot of missing this version does mean Ubro is more reliable though.

(Dark): Your opponents are sickened if they make their save. Sickened is a great debuff,  and I just love no-save-just-suck abilities. This is still a poison effect though; even at these levels you’ll have a lot of immune enemies to deal with. Note: as written they will NOT be sickened if they fail their save, paradoxically making you want them to succeed in some cases since the poison won’t affect the damage they do - however, it does mean that even if they shake off the poison later they end up sickened.

Minor Abilities:

Duality of Cornelius: As above, this is the ability that governs all the other ones you get from Cornelius. For an overall summary of the effects of this ability, refer to Cornelius’ Overall Rating.

Aura of Calm: You project an aura, and creatures within must make a will save - a failure means that any emotion-based effect is suppressed for as long as it last. You can keep the aura up for EBL+Cha rounds/day. This can save your bacon as it shuts off things like rage, bless and heroism, but it also suppresses these effects on your allies, On the other hand, you can also disable debuffs like crushing despair. Since Cornelius likely wants you to be a caster and therefore closer to your allies than the enemy, this will not see much use; worse, it’s a minor, so you can’t make it Selective.

Insect Tattoo (VB, Sign): Functions as summon swarm, originating from the tattoos on your arms, thus you must show them. Curiously, both give you insect swarms but the stats come from animal swarms - it is currently unclear whether these get the vermin or animal type (which affects certain area spells like sleep.) Stay tuned for updates here.

(Light): You summon a swarm of giant crickets (identical stats to a rat swarm.) Rat swarms have a slightly higher Distraction DC and transmit filth fever, but otherwise this is the inferior option; diseases are almost never useful in combat.

(Dark): You summon a swarm of butterflies (identical stats to a bat swarm.) Bat swarms fly, are much faster than rat swarms and have 20ft. blindsense, so yet again Dark Cornelius stomps his light counterpart.

Seedling Bomb: EBL+Cha/day, you create a seed pod which is basically a grenade. It has 8 different effects (4 per duality) of which you choose one. It functions as a splash weapon, so most (but not all) will be a 5 foot radius. (Note: these abilities are named after constellations, but the names are just fluff - they do not interact with any other constellation-related abilities or restrictions you may possess.)

(Light - Angel): Finally, Light Cornelius gets some nice things. Your pod is a healing bomb that heals 3d8+Cha per use. This scales by 1d8 every 2 levels up to 10d8+Cha per use, and heals minimum damage to everyone in the radius. Best of all there is no cap to the daily healing people can get from this. When you first get this, it heals a respectable 85 hit points on average to a single target and up to  35 to everyone in the radius around them. Aim it carefully so as not to heal the enemy (or better yet, don’t use it in combat at all if you can avoid it), but the aggregate amount is more than enough to keep the party happy. Just keep in mind that the healing uses count against your other grenades, so try using your pollen spray to heal as much as possible first until that caps out for a given individual.

(Light - Hero): Your bomb becomes a sticky mass of vines, as a tanglefoot bag, but with a granted ability’s scaling DC. Tanglefoot bags are quite nasty and have great effects (i.e. speed reduction) even on a successful save, You can even pull fliers out of the sky with this, provided you have a good throwing arm and they fly with wings; they then need to burn actions getting free. Best of all, everyone in the splash radius has to save as well; the radius folks get a bonus on their save, but they still suffer the no-save effects. You could potentially gum up an entire squad of attackers with one shot.

(Light - Seer): The bomb latches onto a foe, causing them to lose ½ EBL + Cha hit points each round. for 4 rounds. This never rises above “meh”; stick with the debuff options and leave the damage to the melee classes or your pet. Splash radius foes simply take damage = cha mod; it’s unclear if that damage also repeats each round or only happens once.

(Light - Tree): The bomb duplicates a stinking cloud spell. Nausea is a great effect and the cloud also functions as light battlefield control (blocking vision etc.). Between this and Hero, Light Cornelius has plenty to do when he’s not throwing out heals.

(Dark - Dragon): Your grenade fires a burst of sonic energy, starting at 3d4 and scaling to 10d4. Splash radius enemies take minimal damage (i.e. 3-10.) This doesn’t even add your Cha bonus, making it basically worthless at all levels.

(Dark - Fiend): Like Dragon, except acid, and d6s instead of d4s. Still bad.

(Dark - Mage): Your bomb acts like a targeted dispel magic, except it can only be used on creatures and cannot target a specific spell effect. It does nothing to splash radius targets, which can actually be a good thing if you need to avoid hitting allies or other enemies, but this is the odd one out all the same. Still, it earns a blue for having both offensive and defensive applications, like stripping a charm or dominate from an ally.

(Dark - Tree): Same as Light.

Vestigial Bond: This one is affected by Duality too. You either get a giant cricket (Giant Beetle stats) or a giant butterfly (Giant Wasp stats.) Both can fire your bombs, use your pollen spray, and project your calming aura. In general, these are better than the swarm tattoo you give up, though there can be exceptions.

(Light - “Cricket”): Giant Beetles are Small size, slow fliers, and have very middle-of-the-road stats. They also only have one attack. The high AC and mindless quality are the only real benefits here, and they aren’t much.

(Dark - “Butterfly”):  Giant Wasps start at Medium and quickly get to Large., making them great mounts. Once they grow, their strength almost doubles, too. In addition, they fly three times as fast as the Light option. Still only one attack (a sting this time rather than a bite) but it also carries scaling Dex poison, making it more brutal. The superior option by a mile. It does have lower AC than the “cricket” though.

Overall rating: Good. Though randomness in game mechanics can be (very) annoying, both sides of Cornelius are strong enough that you will never lack for something useful to do in a fight (or even outside of one.) He is most definitely a caster spirit - gishes and other low-caster builds should likely avoid him entirely - but casters get a host of offensive, defensive and utility options, with the balance between the three approaches varying somewhat depending on the version of Cornelius you end up with. Dark Cornelius has the overall edge in most cases, though Light can be situationally useful if you need to play doctor to the party. He has one of the milder influences in the system as well.

Obba, Ella, Atasha: Dark Sisters Three (DC 17)

Summary: These rather misogynistic malefactors help you seduce and bully everyone you meet.

Constellation: Thief

Ceremony: You get high. Well isn’t that straightforward!

Totems: (1) You’re a hot guy (Cha 15+ male) or are within sight of one. (2) You can make a really strong drug for the ceremony, requiring Craft (alchemy) 4 ranks.. (3) You  rip up a charm person scroll and smoke it with the rest of your “herbs.” (Use it to roll the joint!)

Sign (Passive): The hot get hotter.

Sign (Active): You briefly become hideous. Eek!

Influence: There are actually three, chosen at random! Roll 1d3 to get:  (1) Obba makes you a polite neat-freak. (2) Ella makes you a bleeding-heart liberal. (3) Atasha makes you a chatty Cathy.

Favored Ally (Likes): Incorporeal undead.

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): Humanoid arcanists.

Major Ability: 

Touch of Pleasure: You caress a foe as a standard action, dazing them for 1 round and staggering them for 1d3 rounds if they fail a will save. If they succeed, they’re instead shaken for 1d3 rounds. As I’ve said previously, I enjoy partial save effects and this is no exception. The touch range is a problem for a caster Pactmaker, but even if they make the save they’ll have a hard time counterattacking you.

Capstone Empowerment: They are now staggered even if they succeed. Stagger is a great debuff as it faces enemies with a difficult choice without shutting them down entirely - fun for the DM while still being useful for you. This is worthy of a cooldown.

Minor Abilities:

Hold Tongue: You silence a creature, will negates, for the entire combat (though they get saves to throw it off every round as a standard. This would be more useful if it didn’t target basically every caster’s strong save. Once they succeed on a save they’re immune for 24 hours too. Still, if you can land it, you’re going to steal at least one standard from them, possibly more. Combos well with the Touch’s stagger as they then have to use all their actions trying to throw off your debuff.

Love Spell (VB): This one’s pretty weird. You make two creatures fall in love, if they both fail a will save. If they’re incompatible they get a big bonus to resist, but if  they are compatible they actually take a penalty. Unfortunately, exactly who this will work on and what will result when it does are left entirely up to the DM, not to mention all the awkwardness this can cause in a campaign, so I cannot recommend this at all. And whatever you do, do not use this on party members unless the players are 100% cool with it. Even with the (magical) effects being temporarily, I see this as more trouble than it’s worth. I would trade it for the companion or pretend it’s not here.

Serpent’s Decree: You can do nonlethal damage without taking a penalty to your attack roll; in addition, you get the benefits of the Enforcer feat, which lets you demoralize anyone you hit with nonlethal as a free action. This is useful for bringing in enemies for questioning or taking down dominated party members.  Combos well with Al’kra, who gives you Shatter Defenses for free.

Temptation: This is pretty nasty. Starts as suggestion, then automatically upgrades to lesser geas and geas. As written, all three are a standard action; expect this to change. It’s also unclear whether you can choose to use a lesser form after unlocking a greater one. However, even using the original casting times of the spells themselves this is still quite powerful. It has a 24-hour cooldown per creature. However, be wary of the “ongoing effect” rule; if your pact with the ladies ends, your subject will be free even if they have not completed your task. Be sure to combine them with Flexible Pactmaking if you want a multi-day geas.

Vestigial Bond: You get a dove familiar (stats as raven.) Ravens can speak, thus it can use your Temptation ability and give orders on your behalf. It also gets your Hold Tongue and Touch of Pleasure, letting you take other actions. Finally, you get Alertness. Physically it is weak, but with all the great debuffs it can drop in your stead (quite innocuously too - who is going to suspect a dove on the magistrate’s windowsill?) it stays very useful. Frailty and the closeness (and potential slowness) of its powers keep it from a purple rating.

Overall rating: Good. OEA are great both in combat and outside of it. You will need another party member or spirit to seal the deal however; luckily, you’re near the level where you can start binding more than one.

The Nivea Nieces, Venomous Vixens (DC 17 or 22)

Summary:  Oh yay, another dual spirit. These are a pain to write up.

Note: Like Cornelius, the Nieces are two spirits in one - Mariath and Taydie. Also like Cornelius, which one you end up with is random (you must name the twin you want and guess the correct number on a d4 - i.e. 25% chance.) Failure not only means you get the other twin instead, but it boosts the binding DC by 5 - hence the “17 or 22” above, and increasing your chances of a bad pact. Since you have a 75% chance of losing, a smart Pactmaker will generally name the twin he doesn’t want and simply expect the DC to be 22. That way, your 25% chance of success becomes 75%, and if you fail, at least you’ll have a light check.

Constellation: Beast

Ceremony: You play hopscotch in the seal. Hope you have legs.

Totems: (1) You draw the seal with 500gp of poison mixed with mud (note: use injury or ingestion poison to avoid putting yourself at risk). (2) You draw the seal of Cornelius and deface it (this totem keeps you from binding him.) (3) You are a male of at most Adult age, OR your 6 ranks in Craft (alchemy) give you strong knowledge of poison.

Sign (Passive) (“Mariath”): Your dominant hand becomes a snake (see her “Snakebite” ability below.) This will actually keep you from using that hand for most tasks, including weapon/item use and spellcasting, so plan accordingly!

Sign (Passive) (“Taydie”): Your body sprouts thorns. This one, while still dramatic to any onlookers, is much less disruptive, and also easier to conceal via mundane means.

Sign (Active): Your facial features shift to become more snakelike (both versions.)

Influence: You become bad-tempered and pretty rude to everyone. Better let someone else roll the Diplomacy checks, but at least they don’t make you violent.

Favored Ally (Likes): Young Humanoids. (There is no age category called “Youth” - does this mean Adult and below?)

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): Middle-Aged and older Humanoids. Possibly a reference to Cornelius, or maybe they just don’t like old people.

Major Abilities: 

Mind Muddling (Mariath): This is a sort of a semi-confusion ability, giving affected creatures a 25% chance of performing each of the following actions: (1) act normally; (2) can’t move, but can otherwise act normally; (3) Has to move up to its speed in a direction of your choice, but can otherwise act normally, and (4) Double-moves (up to twice its speed) and can take no other actions. Thus the target has a 75% chance of performing a standard actiion normally, which for most enemies means a 75% chance of the ability doing nothing, and that’s after they fail their save. Worse the order of these is not specified, i.e. if a melee opponent lands on 60 and has to move in a direction of your choice, it’s not clear whether they can (a) attack you first and then move, or (b) choose how far to move, e.g. moving only 5 feet away so that if they land on “act normally” the following round, they can 5ft. back in and hit you again. Finally, they get to save every round to break it. This is pretty weak as written.

Capstone Empowerment: You get to roll  twice and pick the result you want. Better, but the weaknesses above still apply.

Venomous Whispers (Taydie): You infect a target with your hate, which takes the form of an inhaled supernatural poison. This one damages Wis (1d4/round) instead of Con and is quite nasty, because it requires two will saves to get rid of, and they must be consecutive. So not only  is this one hard to get rid of in general, it gets harder to get rid of every round, making it much more likely it will stick for the whole duration. Unfortunately, inhaled poison is easy to avoid - the target can just hold their breath, which gives them a 50% chance to avoid having to make a save (though it does expose them to potential suffocation.)

Capstone Empowerment:

Minor Abilities:

Mad Hallucination (VB, Mariath): This functions like the spell, albeit with the advantages of a granted ability (scaling DC and bypassing SR. Regardless, penalizing will saves will negates is a touch redundant - if you can make them fail a will save, just hit them with whatever you were going to hit them with. You can also only have it up on one target at a time and affected targets gain 24h immunity. I’d go with the companion.

Mariath’s Guide (Mariath): ½ EBL to Survival and Craft (alchemy) checks. Double bonus to make poison, find poison-making materials (e.g. plants) or make your way at sea. To be perfectly honest, at this level none of these are very useful.

Snakebite (Sign, Mariath): Mariath’s only decent ability, yet this too has its problems. Your hand transforms into a snake, granting you a bite attack (like Naliya’s shadow, this doesn’t use your head, so if you have a bite already this will get you  a second one.) The bite only does 1d3, but you get your Str bonus ,and it also carries a nasty Con poison that can do up to 12 points of Con damage per application (i.e. 1d3 per round for 4 rounds, save ends.) Note the poison gets applied every time you do damage; combined with the poison concentration rules you can get this to debilitating very quickly. The major downside is that you can’t use that hand for anything else - items, other weapons, shields, spellcasting (shouldn’t affect you much, but this matters for the archetypes) etc.

Bite of the Wolf Spider (VB, Taydie):  This is more like it. EBL+Cha rounds/day, Taydie allows you to polymorph into a…. were-spider thing, getting some decent stat boosts (+2 Str, +4 Dex, +4 Natural Armor) and a 1d6 bite attack. You also get the benefits of Blind-Fight for free. Since the form is (monstrous?) humanoid, you get to keep your gear (including armor) and weapons, which makes this a decent ability for gishes. Furthermore, the bonuses are all untyped.

Taydie’s Guide (Taydie): Works like Mariath’s guide, except Taydie helps you find your way through jungles and forests rather than at sea. This is much more common in most campaigns, giving Taydie another leg up over her sibling.

Thorn Skin (Sign, Taydie): This makes grappling you a pain - literally. 1d6 extra piercing, which also gets added to any of your natural weapons (including Taydie’s bite.) It also boost your natural armor even higher with an additional +2 untyped bonus. This means Taydie gives you a grand total of +8 AC just for pacting with her, and you still get your armor, shield etc. on top of that - not bad at all. It also means her bite goes up to 2d6, and grappled foes will take an additional 1d6.  The only downside is that the villagers might be a bit put off.

Poison Use: Both girls get this. and it works like  the ninja/rogue ability. It’s pretty superfluous for Mariath, who only has one hand free (and the other is poisonous already), but Taydie can make use of it since both her hands are free and she keeps her weapons.

Vestigial Bond: You get a viper (as druid.) Unlike Aza’zati’s viper, the Nieces’ version is an animal companion, making it much sturdier in a fight and granting it feats. In addition, animal companion vipers can grow to medium. However, you don’t have many useful abilities to share with it, and as Taydie you’re definitely better off keeping the shapeshift ability instead and using the companion from another spirit.

Overall rating: Poor. Taydie is a pretty good spirit (particularly for a dex-based gishcultist) - but the problem is that her sister sucks ass, and the one you get is random. In addition, the best way to get Taydie (by asking for Mariath) is not only tempting fate, but makes Taydie harder to bind even if you “win.” In addition, casters have next to nothing here. I wouldn’t blame anyone who decided to throw up their hands and tell both sisters where to shove their binding seal, especially with Vandrae beckoning quite seductively at the very same level.

4th-Level

Fey Baraddu, the Beast in the Woods (DC 23)

Summary: This sensual satyr gives Pactmakers a bevy of bestial benefits.

Constellation: Tree, oddly enough (not Beast?)

Ceremony: You chug a cocktail of animal blood and booze, strip naked and boogie down. If you’re in the woods when you do this, watch out for she-bears.

Totems: (1) You have 8 ranks in Perform (Dance) so you can really bust a move. (2) You have 8 ranks in Survival. (3) You wear animal furs while drawing the seal.

Sign (Passive): You smell musky. Again, watch out for she-bears.

Sign (Active): Your whites become whiter and colors become brighter.

Influence: You gain... er... urges. With anyone or anything you find attractive. Did I mention you should watch out for she-bears?

Favored Ally (Likes): Any Fey.

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): Lawful Outsiders.

Major Ability: 

Beast Shape: You morph into an animal, as beast shape II. This lasts indefinitely - you have to manually change back by activating it again, meaning you are stuck in whatever form you last shifted to for at least 5 rounds. So if you’re shifting at the start of combat, choose carefully! It may be a good idea to just be shapeshifted into your most likely combat form at all times, then when a fight starts the cooldown will already be up.

As a refresher, here are the bonuses granted by Beast Shape II (and polymorph effects in general). (Special thanks goes to Draxar on the Paizo boards for his excellent Polymorphamory handbook to shapeshifting!)

Pounce and flight alone are worth it, but there is a lot to love about this ability, particularly the ability to stay shifted indefinitely and change forms nearly at-will. You get this 1 level after a Druid gets an equal-power Wild Shape, but yours lasts longer and has unlimited uses/day (though it also has a 30-sec cooldown between shifts.)

Capstone Empowerment: Your Beast Shape grows in power and even scales as you level, granting you higher levels of beast shape and even vermin shape. Note that, unlike Wild Shape, you actually do get the Magical Beast forms out of your ability, making you an even better shapeshifter in some instances than a Druid.  

The benefits for empowerment are as follows:

- You can now shift as a move action.

- You also gain the option of vermin shape II - note that you get this even earlier than a Druid wearing a Scarab Breastplate, and yours still lasts all day right off the bat. Vermin shape II carries higher Natural Armor bonuses, grants a resistance bonus against mind-affecting effects, has a range of Tiny - Large and broadens your ability pool to include the following additional abilities: Tremorsense 30, blood drain, constrict, grab, lunge, poison, pull, trample, and web. (Be mindful that this form doesn’t grant pounce however.)

- At 9th level, you gain the option of beast shape III. You can now shift to Dimunitive or Huge animals, gaining corresponding natural armor and size bonuses; you can also shift to a Small or Medium Magical Beast. You gain the following additional abilities above beast shape II: burrow 30, climb 90, fly 90 (good), swim 90, blindsense 30, constrict, ferocity, grab, jet, poison, rake, trample and web.

- At 11th, you gain this spirit’s ultimate form - beast shape IV (even wild shape doesn’t go this high.) This grants you everything from BSIII; in addition, your magical beast range now goes from Tiny - Large, and you gain the following new abilities: burrow 60, Fly 120 (good), swim 120, blindsense 60, darkvision 90, tremorsense 60, breath weapon, jet, rend, roar and spikes. You also gain resist 20 to whatever element your chosen form has immunity or resistance to, but you also gain the chosen form’s vulnerabilities (if any.)

Minor Abilities:

Awesome Blow: You get the Awesome Blow feat for free without needing to meet the prereqs. The visual is cool but the feat itself doesn’t have much to offer. You can put it to best use with a Large or Huge form.

Baraddu’s Fangs (VB): This ability lets all your natural weapons in beast form count as +2 Cold Iron, and the enhancement bonus scales as you level - +3 at 10, +4 at 13 and +5 at 16. This is huge because in PF, static enhancement bonuses let you bypass DR, including adamantine and alignment-based. This also frees up your AoMF to carry enhancing qualities like Ghost Touch or Speed, since static magic items continue to function while shifted.

Wild Empathy: As the druid ability. Your Cha is likely to be much higher than a druid’s but this is still situational.

Woodland Stride: Nonmagical undergrowth doesn’t impede you. Thorns/bushes shouldn’t be an issue anymore at 7th level+. Note however that this should still apply during planar travel, in case there are nonmagical nasty plants or difficult terrain in a planar forest of some kind.

Vestigial Bond: FB sends you a Brownie familiar; as with Cromwell’s gremlin, fey familiars are nice for their hands and rare creature type. The brownie is particularly useful because it shares your shapeshifting ability, letting you double-team most threats together. Unlike most Major powers, FB’s is indefinite and therefore you can shift your familiar (or yourself) immediately after binding her rather than waiting until you get into a fight, making sharing the ability much less onerous. Physically the brownie is weak, but it has high dex - if you go this route, consider a Small form so that it can flank and attack using its Dex score. The brownie also brings the following to the table - Improved Initiative, Dodge, a massive Stealth mod, large Perception and Escape Artist, 4 languages, at-will Prestidigitation/Mending/Dancing Lights, and 1/day Lesser Confusion/Dimension Door/Mirror Image/Ventriloquism. There’s lots here to love, but unfortunately, the familiar does replace Baraddu’s Fangs if you select it - meaning neither of you will get the cold iron or enhancement bonuses. If you can get those another way (amulet, greater magic fang etc.) then by all means do so, but otherwise, you have a tough choice on your hands.

Overall rating: Excellent.  Fey Baraddu’s shapeshifting, like the Wild Shape it is based on, can make you a powerhouse gish - particularly with his built-in enhancements. There’s a lot of utility there too, giving you mobility, stealth, special attacks like web/jet, and defensive/perceptive forms too. The ability to “pre-buff” with him is unique to pact magic and quite welcome. You will have a hard choice between the strong enhancement bonuses and the excellent familiar in most cases, but it is a good problem to have. This is the prime cut for a melee Pactmaker, and combos well with other melee spirits like Cromwell, Loh’moi and Arturius. It is also another spirit that doesn’t really care about your Cha - even if you miss out on empowerment this is still good. (The influence is easy to live with too and creates hilarious roleplaying opportunities.) And finally, neither your shapeshifting nor your enhancements can be dispelled or disjoined, thanks to being supernatural - nor does, say, shapeshifting while already in melee provoke.

Gulguthriana, the Glutton (DC 16)

Summary: This disgusting spirit bolsters your kung fu, particularly your grappling.

Constellation: Noble (Oddly.)

Ceremony: You prepare a huge meal and stuff your face.

Totems: (1) You are chaotic or covered in poo (no, really.) (2) You’re suffering from the filth fever disease. (3) You pass a DC 22 fort save from adding garbage and poo as part of the Ceremonial meal. Basically, pact in a sewer and you should have no trouble hitting all three, aside from the aforementioned fort save.

Sign (Passive): You need lotion and your arms get longer.

Sign (Active): Your body swells into an oval briefly.

Influence: You get the munchies. You also forget your dining etiquette.

Favored Ally (Likes): Any aberration.

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): Elves.

Major Ability: 

Gulguthriana’s Greedy Grasp:  This acutely alliterative ability lets you stretch your limbs 5ft. for a round as a swift action, increasing your reach. Though reach is nice and this stacks with other methods (e.g. size increases), as a major power it’s a bit lacking since you basically only get the buff for one full-attack/AoO routine per fight. Not much else to say about it really.

Capstone Empowerment: Your reach extends to 10ft. No changes to duration or cooldown. Again, the cooldown and limited duration really hurts this. It would have been miles better if it lasted even 4 rounds.

Minor Abilities:

Gag of Gulguthriana: You gain the constrict ability. This combos well with your other abilities, and the damage die increases too (see below.)

Gargantuan Gulguthriana: You gain IUS, and  ½ a monk’s unarmed damage die (which stacks with any monk levels you may have.) An actual natural attack would be better in my opinion, but this can at least get you up to 1d10 punches. Note that this is not actually a monk’s unarmed strike, i.e. it won’t be treated as a natural weapon by spells. (The stacking actually makes her a pretty powerful choice for an Empyreal Friar, however.)

Gulguthriana’s Grapple (VB): You don’t provoke for trying to start a grapple, and you take no penalty for trying to grapple someone without gaining the grappled condition yourself. This means that for example you don’t take the penalty to Dex from the grappled condition, and you can still make AoOs against other attackers. If you don’t plan on dealing with anyone beyond the person you’re grappling, you can simply take Improved Grapple and call it a day instead.

Gluttonous Gullet: You get an untyped bonus vs. ingested poisons, sicken and nauseate effects. Nausea is pretty nasty so anything that helps you avoid it is a bonus, but the rest are situational.

Vestigial Bond: You get a dire rat familiar. Assuming this is treated similarly to the rat familiar you will get a bonus on fort saves; in addition, DRs are small (about the size of a dog) and can thus threaten/flank/grapple, albeit with penalties. It can inflict Filth Fever, which sucks but is something. If you plan on contracting with Gulgy for multiple days, you can always order your rat to bite you and fail your save, gaining the disease as a totem for subsequent bindings, but otherwise there isn’t a whole lot here. They do have skill focus Perception, LLV and scent to be a decent pair of eyes, and are fairly stealthy as well, particularly in places where a rat could reasonably expect to be seen. Finally, it shares your stretchy and constricty powers.

Overall rating: Poor. The squick factor is bad enough... but even if you get past that, her abilities are just weak. Just about everything she gives you, Fey Baraddu does at the same level and does it much better. If your check is too low to get FB’s capstone empowerment however and you still want Constrict, Gulguthriana is an alternate means of access.

Hexus, the Living Curse (DC 21)

Summary: This living spell gives you the power to debuff your foes and makes you rather tough to kill.

Constellation: Skull

Ceremony: You hammer a nail through an iron tablet and sprinkle grave soil on it. I feel like this is a reference to something but not sure what - does anyone know?

Totems: (1) You put a corpse in the seal as a focus (note: it appears this doesn’t have to be humanoid, so feel free to bring a dead animal with you.) (2) Your 8 ranks in Spellcraft or Know (Arcana) teach you the words of Hexus’ curse. (3) You place a family member or loved one’s bone in the seal. (note: “loved one” or even “family member” could arguably be a favorite pet, letting you accomplish two totems at once.)

Sign (Passive): You turn green and warty. I’ll get you, my pretty!

Sign (Active): Your eyes glow.

Influence: You become almost suicidally protective of your friends. Unless you’re in an evil campaign, this is one of the better Influences to live with. Not what I’d expect from a curse-spirit but we’ll go with it.

Favored Ally (Likes): Any ooze(??)

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): Divine spellcasting humanoids.

Major Ability: 

Possess Animal: You can magic jar into animals (just without the actual “jar”), will negates. This can last for the duration of the pact; the cooldown does not start again until you leave the animal behind. Keep your body restrained since the animal will be inside - by RAW it is “imprisoned” there but it’s unclear whether the animal’s soul gets any control of your old body. You take the following with you: all mental ability scores, level, class, BAB, save bonuses, alignment and mental abilities (including spirit powers - huzzah!) You gain the physical attributes, natural abilities and hit points of your host, so choose carefully. However, so long as you can stay within range of your real body, this basically removes the consequences of death or various conditions. Magic Jar at will is nice, but animals tend to become scarce opponents as you climb levels. (In addition to using this offensively, a nice trick is to combo this with one of your Vestigial Bonds, letting you assume direct control of a disposable body with selectable feats while keeping all your occult powers; N’alyia’s bat is a good combat choice for instance, and she can even carry your body around.)

Capstone Empowerment: You can now magic jar into the corpses of humanoids and animals as well, giving them the zombie template but maintaining your mental ability scores and powers. This gives you an endless supply of bodies to hop into, as well as various undead immunities, but be sure to keep your “jar” within range. When you leave a corpse it is instantly destroyed. What’s nice about this is that you can possess an animal (including a Vestigial Bond), get it killed, and then possess it again as a zombie. Note however that zombies are perma-staggered, which can be bad for you.

Minor Abilities:

Agitate Animals: Animals within 30 ft. become shaken around you. Not a terrible ability but (1        ) again, animal opponents become less prominent as you gain levels, (2) shaken is a minor condition and (3) this affects friendly animals too, including animal/Vestigial Bonds. There doesn’t seem to be a way to disable it, so it can affect animal companions too if you’re not careful (yours and those of your allies.) You can stack this up to higher forms of fear though, if you have the means (e.g. Sevnoir’s howl.) Shaken does lower saving throws though, making it that much easier to do your skinchanging.

Bestow Curse (VB): As the spell. This version is particularly brutal since it’s at-will, has no cooldown, the DC scales and it ignores SR/Immunity. It also inflicts a -2 penalty to everything for 1 round even on a successful save. This combos quite well with your magic jar ability since you can use a disposable body to get in the enemy’s midst and touch-curse everyone around you with impunity. A successful save makes the enemy immune for 24 hours though.

Rebuke Undead: You gain the ability to Command Undead, at-will, without needing Channel Energy uses to power it. This is the feat, not the spell, which means it actually functions as the even more powerful control undead. Since you are Cha-focused, you can get some pretty powerful minions this way. Mindless undead stay enthralled indefinitely, while intelligent ones get a new save each day (assuming your pact lasts longer than 24h that is.) If you have a means to animate or create undead you can amass a decent army with this.

Undying: You gain a supercharged version of the Diehard feat - letting you act completely normally while in negatives (i.e. full rounds worth of actions), auto-stabilize, and letting you stay alive all the way down to double your Con score. Needless to say, this makes you very, very hard to put down, particularly the staying conscious bit. Combine with Ubro and you can even treat your own wounds as needed.

Vestigial Bond: Hexus grants you a homunculus familiar in exchange for your curse ability. Construct is a great creature type due to its boatload of immunities, and the homunculus itself has several key advantages. Some of these are:

- 50 ft. fly speed (good)

- Sleep poison bite

- Darkvision + LLV

- Security camera vision/hearing out to 1500 ft.

- Can write (but not speak) common.

- Gains your magic jar ability (into animals or corpses.) Note: by RAW you can both use it back-to-back, because the cooldown doesn’t start until one of you leaves a possessed body behind.

- Gains its own Command Undead pool.

These are nice perks but at-will Bestow Curse is so good that it can be a difficult decision. Be very careful with it because if it dies, you will take 2d10 damage.

Overall rating: Good. Hexus has several unique abilities that are beneficial to a less sturdy Pactmaker. The ability to act via proxy, combined with your extreme resilience, make you formidable in hazardous fights.  The need to keep your body nearby is a weakness, however do note that you only need to be in range when you leave your vessel and can roam around for very long distances and times until then - so feel free to, say, toss your inert body into a portable hole or something, only taking it out again when your pact is about to end. Combined with a brutal animal form (or a weak one with the ability to make it brutal, e.g. via Fey Baraddu) you can be a capable frontliner with minimal risk to yourself. Despite his utility, Hexus however is better as a secondary or tertiary vestige, supporting the primary strategy of another. If the creature types for his major were unrestricted he would be much stronger.

Loh’moi, the Mad Geometer (DC 23)

Summary: This wacky wunderkind lets you hop around the battlefield, and prevents others from doing the same.

Constellation: Mage

Ceremony: Just being able to draw this geometric genius’ elaborate seal is enough to get his attention.

Totems: (1) You are a father or have birthed a son. (2) You have Int 16+. (3) Your 8 ranks in Know (architecture) help you draw his seal perfectly.

Sign (Passive): Geometric lines cover your skin.

Sign (Active): The lines move.

Influence: You don’t want any help solving puzzles. Gimme a minute guys, I got it.

Favored Ally (Likes): Ethereal plane native outsiders.

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): Evil humanoids.

Major Ability: 

Transdimensional Ray:  You fire a force ray that unfortunately scales pretty poorly. 1d6 every other level just doesn’t cut it anymore, especially for a single-target attack.

Capstone Empowerment: You can fire your ray through every obstacle except total cover + total concealment. Much better but still weak. More importantly however, this now also applies a dimensional anchor effect (will negates) to your target - much more useful than the damage, especially since this one ignores SR. If you bind him at all, try to get the augment if you can.

Minor Abilities:

Bend to Freedom: You can contort, gaining a bonus to Escape Artist and squeezing through narrower passages than usual. The EA bonus is nice but the other is unlikely to come up.

Extra Space: Rope Trick at will. What’s nice about this is it’s undispellable, but do be aware that you may actually need a rope because some supernatural abilities require components in PF. Regardless, this gives you a fairly safe place to repact mid-dungeon, or use slow and risky abilities like Muse Istago’s dream-scrying. The other perils of PF Rope Trick apply, e.g. not being able to pull the rope up after you. (Be very wary about your pact ending while you’re in here, otherwise the party may be in for a rude awakening.)

Geometrical Step: You can Dimension Door as a move action up to your base speed in distance. If you extend this to a full-round action you can go twice the distance. Unfortunately, the full-round use provokes AoO (though since it’s supernatural, you don’t need to concentrate even if you get hit.) As with the DD spell, you can specify a direction, letting you blink past doors and other obstacles even if you don’t know exactly where you’re going. At-will move action teleportation blows N’alyia out of the water.

Geometrical Agility (VB): This is a cool ability, letting you act after you land in your destination square, and even flank with yourself. The ability to act after you D-Door means you can do it twice per turn. This even applies to the DD spell if you have some way of casting it, e.g. from a scroll.

Vestigial Bond: Perhaps the most powerful Companion of all - you get a summoner’s Eidolon (albeit with half the evolution points, but full progression everywhere else.) A summoner handbook can help you build the right one, and you can of course freely access the more situational evolutions if you want them since you reshape this one with every pact instead of waiting to level up. You give up the ability to act after a DD or to flank with yourself for this, but that’s okay since the big guy can be flanked with just as well.

Here’s what it has when you get it:

Overall rating: Excellent. Loh’moi’s major is weak, but the rest is gold - at-will, cooldownless move-action teleportation (if short range), at-will rope tricks for the party, and the strongest companion yet, an eidolon (who doesn’t even remove your teleportation.) Further, the eidolon shares your teleportation abilities for nasty mobility and can even help you lock down teleporting enemies with your transdimensional ray as needed. Loh’moi is a fantastic secondary spirit, particularly for a “caster” Pactmaker who prefers to stay back from the action. Gish Pactmakers who forego the eidolon and fight in melee can use Loh’moi’s ability to flank with themselves to employ some interesting tactics.

PMU2:

Ethaniel Midnight, The Inquisitive Torturer (DC 21)

Summary: This sick spirit is aimed at villains rather than heroes. Unfortunately, his vaguely worded powers will likely cause far more torture at your table figuring them out than they actually inflict. I recommend you avoid this one until he is cleared up a bit.

Constellation: Fiend

Ceremony: You beat yourself up. Not the face! (Note: You must do at least half your total HP of nonlethal doing this, so don’t bind this guy if you’re injured already as you might end up knocking yourself out.)

Totems: (1) You deface the seals of Fey Baraddu and Loh’moi. (2) Your 6 ranks in Heal give you anatomy lessons. (3) You pact in a basement near the stairs.

Sign (Passive): Your body becomes covered in bruises and cuts. It’s not clear whether these hurt, but regardless, avoid injury poisons/diseases if you can.

Sign (Active): The wounds turn a pus-filled yellow. Yum.

Influence: You snark whenever someone is hurt. This one could actually wait.

Favored Ally (Likes): LE humanoids and (subtyped) outsiders.

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): CG humanoids and (subtyped) outsiders.

Major Ability: 

Touch of Pain: With a touch, you deal 1d6/level nonlethal to your target, fort partial; if they succeed on the save, they simply take 3d6 nonlethal instead. Unfortunately, this is also mind-affecting and a pain effect, so there are a lot of ways to mitigate or be immune to this. The “damage” scales better

than most major abilities though.

Capstone Empowerment: You scar a target, which lets you target them at any range with any ranged granted abiility (similar to the Witch’s hex of the same name.) They must fail a save against your major for this to work (thus subjecting it to all the drawbacks above), and it’s pretty  situational to boot - most enemies weak enough to be affected by a mind-affecting fort save will just end up slain anyway.

Minor Abilities:

Crystallize Pain: This one’s really hard to rate because it’s so vague and confusing. Essentially you torture the hell out of someone for 8 hours, draining their Wis and Cha, transforming their anguish into a powerful crystal. When consumed, this crystal will give you +20 on Cha-based checks (this includes binding checks) and can even be used to replace expensive material components for spellcasting! Sounds great right? Well it is, but actually using the ability is extremely unclear. No range is listed, no restraint requirements on the target . I’m rating this one red because it is unlikely to be much use to a player - aside from both the act itself and using its product very likely resulting in an alignment shift (unless you’re already evil), it is also highly impractical due to needing 8 hours away from adventuring and a captured sentient to drain.

Discern Lies: Confusingly, despite the name, this actually functions as a single-target zone of truth rather than discern lies. The difference between the two is that discern lies (the spell, that is) allows the target to lie (and will not clue them in that you are aware of such if they fail their save) - whereas zone of truth (and thus, this ability), physically prevents lying, and the target is aware of it the entire time. Thus, they can choose not to speak at all. This is unfortunate, because DL is superior for subtle operations than ZOT; cluing the vizier/noble in on the fact that you don’t trust them isn’t exactly going to win you many friends, especially if they had no intention of lying to you to begin with.

Fasle Alignment: You can fake your alignment from anything, even that. Unlike effects like Undetectable Alignment or Cromwell’s Indiscernible Alignment, this actually lets you go a step further and set your alignment as a specific value; for example, rather than merely detecting as “not evil,” you can choose to register as “chaotic good.” Given that Ethaniel is aimed at evil characters (especially villainous NPC Pactmakers who actually have time to use his other abilities) this can be useful for hiding your tendencies from nosy PCs. You must choose the desired alignment when then pact with Ethaniel is made.

Instant Manacles (VB): The more I read this one the more confused I get. You create a pair of masterwork manacles that bind a creatures limbs, inflicting the grappled condition. But do they simply appear on the creature, or do you create them and have to apply them manually? Do you have to make a grapple check, and if so, what modifiers? Or is it a reflex save, or do you have to incapacitate the target and apply them normally? Can it work on creatures without legs, like a merfolk or ooze? Specialized manacles can be created for any size creature; does this mean this ability can be used on anyone? Can you manacle a Storm Giant, Ancient Red Dragon, or the Tarrasque? And if you use it on a larger creature, does the Strength DC to break them change? They are much stronger than normal manacles, with hardness and HP scaling with your binder level and Cha (rather than just being 10), but as written the Strength check to break them doesn’t change even if they are twice as sturdy. All in all this one needs some cleaning up. As written it appears that you have to apply them manually, making them exceedingly impractical for combat use; go with the companion.

Speak with Dead: This functions as the spell, except you get twice as many questions and can divide them up among corpses as you choose. Note the will save, which applies if the creature’s alignment differs from yours,  and being a corpse your Discern Lies power won’t help as written either. Situationally useful.

Vestigial Bond: You can animate objects, as the spell, but they must be torturer’s tools. Since just about anything can be used to torture (one of the examples given is a knife), this distinction is not as restrictive as it sounds. (Heck, chains and whips can be used to torture, and those can be nearly any size, so go nuts.) You can only animate one object at a time. The problem here though - as cool as this ability is, every spirit can animate objects with the Poltergeist binder secret, and furthermore this won’t share any of his abilities with you (so no having the spirit torture for you while you go off to do something else. So while it isn’t bad, this guy isn’t exactly bringing anything to the table that other spirits aren’t either, and they have fewer restrictions about what to animate (e.g. wagons or statues.)

Overall rating: Poor. A useful companion and semi-useful major aim this guy at caster Pactmakers. The Crystallize ability, if it is ever clarified, can be extremely useful for acing binding checks if you don’t care about your alignment, but the practical limitations of being sufficiently vile, obtaining a victim to torture and setting aside 8 hours of adventuring to pull it off will likely handicap  most players.

Jehotek, the Throne of Heaven (DC 21)

Summary: This spirit has one of my favorite names in the entire system. While his major is quite weak, he can be a very useful support spirit in a good-aligned caster Pactmaker’s repertoire.

Constellation: Angel

Ceremony: You chug holy water. You’re not undead, right? (Note: holy water is costly and thus not in your pouch - plan accordingly!)

Totems: (1) The holy water You drink came from Jehotek, specifically from his Blessings of Jehotek ability. The logistics of this one can be trickyFAQ. (2) Your 8 ranks in Know (Religion) let you recite an ancient prayer to Jehotek.. (3) You are LG or have been blessed by a LG priest within 24 hours.

Sign (Passive): Ashes appear on your brow. They cannot be washed off.

Sign (Active): Your brow shines. How much light is unclear.FAQ

Influence: You extoll the virtues of Jehotek, including above other gods. Cleric binders beware as this could get you in hot water with your real patron. It could also land you in trouble in the wrong locales (e.g. Razmir or Cheliax.) Other than those situations though this is pretty harmless - it’s not like the other vestiges will care, and your party likely won’t either.

Favored Ally (Likes): LG Outsiders or anyone with a good Aura (capital A, as in the cleric class feature.)

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): CE Outsiders or anyone with an evil Aura (as above.)

Major Ability: 

Fire From The Heavens: You unleash a 20ft. cylinder of energy (half fire, half divine i.e. untyped.) It starts at 2d6 (reflex half) and gains an extra 1d6 every 2 levels after that (i.e. 8d6 at 19/20.) This is downright criminal when you get it (ECL 7) and the saving throw makes it even worse; plus it does not get much better with level.

Capstone Empowerment: Jehotek’s fire does not harm good creatures or anyone bound to him. In addition, `1/day you can heal one such immune creature in the area = EBL (so 7 HP when you get this.) It’s nice that you can bathe your good-aligned allies in this, but unfortunately the monsters are unlikely to notice it either; you’ve got better things to do with your actions most of the time.

Minor Abilities:

Blessings of Jehotek: You can purify food and drink, as the spell, with a touch. Feed the hungry! Beyond that, you can also create doses of holy water or “blessed foodstuffs” each day = EBL. The effect of the blessed food is to confer the bless spell on the target for 1 minute. However, if you eat it, you get the benefit for 24 hours. Others can also get the extended benefit by agreeing to suffer Jehotek’s influence - which means extolling his virtues above other gods, so make sure the cleric sticks with the 1 minute version. Anyway, bless is a decent buff and holy water is still okay at this level, particularly if you hand it all to an alchemist.

Flock of Jehotek: By far his best ability - evil creatures take a penalty to their saves (higher DC) and good creatures get a bonus to their save (lower DC) vs. your abilities. This ability alone makes binding the guy worthwhile, at least as a secondary/support spirit in a caster build. The majority of enemies in campaigns are evil, and this will not penalize you vs. the neutral ones, so this is all upside.

Prayer to Jehotek (VB): 3+Cha times per day, you can standard-action ask Jehotek to do you a solid, granting your allies within 40ft.  +1 to attack rolls, damage rolls, saving throws and skill checks and your enemies a a penalty to same, for rounds/EBL. (Not ability checks, sadly.) While this is minor, there is no saving throw and the bonuses are untyped, so they’ll stack with whatever else your team has got going on (e.g. your pact augmentations), so it never hurts to throw on each combat. Who knows, that +1 might save a life.

Rebuke Heresy: You can frighten any single enemy (or Turn any undead) as a standard action for rounds/EBL. While fear is easily resisted, Turning is not, and that keeps this very handy; much better than his actual major. As a reminder, frightened means you must try to flee, and whether you do or not you will suffer -2 to attacks, saves, skill checks and ability checks. They can attempt a save on later rounds to reduce this to shaken for the remainder of the effect - not only is this still good because the penalties stay on them, they also take that save at a penalty, making it harder to throw off. Turning meanwhile functions like panic, which is similar to the above except the undead drops anything its holding and cowers if it cannot escape, setting it up for a nice sneak attack if it’s corporeal.  Combine this with your prayer and flock vs. an evil undead and they are looking at a whopping -5 to their saves, or -3 if they save against the initial use of this. However, be very careful using it in a dungeon or enemy base, as a single fleeing enemy can have dire consequences.

Vestigial Bond: You gain a Harbinger Archon familiar (as wizard.) The art for these is really cool. Anyway, archons bring many of the goodies you come to expect from angelic/celestial companions - flight, truespeech, electricity and petrification immunity. This little guy can also rebuke heresy and purify food/water for you. Constant detect evil and at-will dancing lights are great - work out a signal whereby your little guy can scan the people you’re talking to and give you a discreet heads-up. He also gets 3/day protection from evil to ward party members from influence. Disassemble lets it squeeze into very tight spaces or out of grapples. Finally you get Commune (6 questions) for those burning queries.

Overall rating: Good. While his major leaves a lot to be desired, Jehotek brings enough other goodies to the table that I can recommend him. He makes an excellent secondary or tertiary spirit for a caster as he will make your other spirits much stronger just by being there. In addition, his influence is very mild - in most campaigns, the worst you have to worry about is annoying the party with your Jehotek pamphlets. (Watch out while in religiously strict countries however.) Also, avoid him in evil campaigns or on villains.

Kandisha, the Desert’s Revenge (DC 22)

Summary: She is a strong independent vestige don’t need no man.

Constellation: Seer

Ceremony: You strip and tie your arms and legs together near her seal. She’s a kinky sort.

Totems: (1) You’re young, female, or you’ve been tortured unjustly. (2) You kill a cock- excuse me, rooster. Men! (3) You pact in the desert.

Sign (Passive): Your lips harden into a beak. Hope you don’t have to make out anytime soon.

Sign (Active): A plume of feathers bursts behind you.

Influence: You become vengeful. Easy enough if you channel it the right way.

Favored Ally (Likes): All women except prostitutes..

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): All males except young boys.

Major Ability: 

Curse of KandishaFAQ: This multifunctional 30ft. range curse has a variety of effects you can choose from. The rating here is an average of these; individual ratings follow. While the curse only affects humanoids, it is also permanent until removed. You could potentially curse an entire city if you kept this up long enough, and unlike similar abilities there is no 24 hour cooldown to deal with, so you can just spam it every 5 rounds out of combat until it sticks. (Considering that she is 4th-level, you can also consider bringing these to your DM as Bestow Curse options - let me know if you’re successful!) This is one of those few wo;; saves that works on undead so she can be handy to keep in your repertoire. (Note: This may be subject to the “effects ending when a pact does” rule.)

(Dry Mouth): You impose 20% failure chance on abilities with verbal components as sand pours from the target’s mouth. Note that as written this can affect supernatural abilities too, e.g. a Witch’s Cackle. Situationally useful, but most things this will be useful against have good will saves.

(Erode Pride): -4 penalty to Con and Cha and target can’t bump uglies. The latter is probably going to be much more painful than the former. (How do they pee, I wonder?) This can be troublesome for some creatures but the effect is pretty mild for most since few classes use these attributes offensively (and the ones that do tend, once again, to have strong will saves.

(Personal MirageFAQ):While this is pretty unique, I have no idea how it’s supposed to work. You afflict the target with a permanent hallucinatory terrain, but what happens when they move outside the area? Do they just keep seeing the same one or do you dictate what they see forever? How do you know to do this? And what happens when they are presented with incontrovertible proof of the illusion’s falsehood - does the curse end, or does it continue but become irrelevant since they can now see the real work through the translucent overlay? As written that is exactly what would happen since it follows the spell, and this is pretty lame in combat anyway. Back to the drawing board with this one.

(Sun Foe:) The enemy is staggered in daylight (both natural and the spell!) and gains vulnerability to fire (+50% damage.) Combos well with Serapith. Perma-stagger is fun and noncaster (read: weak-willed) enemies tend to suffer more from this condition, creating synergy between those likely to fail the save and those most hurt by it.

Capstone Empowerment: You can choose two curses instead of one, granting a save for each. Use Sun Foe + Dry Mouth vs.  verbal casters, and Sun Foe + Erode Pride vs. martials and nonverbal casters (e.g. alchemists.)

Minor Abilities:

Avian Speech: You can speak with all kinds of birds, as speak with animals. Too situational for my tastes.

Sand Cloud: You form a cloud of sand (functions as solid fog) except it also penalizes perception checks for -2.; it lasts EBL+Cha minutes/day and you can divide the uses up in increments of a minute each. Solid Fog is still great control even with PF’s nerf, and you get a lot of them since they basically last all combat long with a single use.

Protection of Kandisha (VB): As protection from evil, yet any alignment, yet only functions against males. While flavorful, I feel like this will cause too many arguments to be worthwhile. “Is that skeleton male? How about that summoned animal? Or those bandits we can’t see firing arrows at us from cover?” You get EBL+Cha minutes of this per day, increments of one minute, similar to Sand Cloud. Throw it on, it can’t hurt, just make sure your DM knows what they’re in for; personally I would use the companion instead.

Scimitar of the Desert: Woo, free Dervish Dance! As long as your off-hand is empty and you’re using a scimitar (you gain proficiency), you can add Dex to attack and damage. Dex-based Gishcultists have a great reason to bind her.

Vestigial Bond: You get a “sand elemental,” i.e. an earth elemental (as wizard.) Elemental familiars are Small which means this little guy can threaten/flank. You might need Jayna to talk to it; if she’s not available, you both have avian speech so find a bird to use as an intermediary. Burrow and Earth Glide make it a good scout, plus you have empathic senses (and later scry) to see what it is seeing. Finally, it can deliver your curse and sand clouds for you, freeing you up to charge in swinging with your scimitar. Have it place the cloud in such a way that they take the attack penalty but not you, and can’t 5-foot out of it - this will help you neuter many melee opponents.

Overall rating: Good. Solid Fog doesn’t scale as well as it did in 3.5 but it’s still good, particularly at these levels. She is a very good choice for Dex-based Pactmaker gishes, saving you a feat on Dervish Dance and giving you scimitar proficiency.

5th-Level

Arturius, the Sleeping King (DC 23)

Summary: This royal revenant overclocks the damage of your other abilities - for a time.

Constellation: Hero

Ceremony: You toil to anoint yourself with oil and soil.

Totems: (1) You stab a masterwork longsword into the ground as a focus. (2) You have Know (Nobility) 10 ranks. (3) You pact within 10 ft. of a natural barrow.

Sign (Passive): Your gear is filthy no matter what you do.

Sign (Active): Your muscles surge with strength. Kaioken!

Influence: You are suspicious and jealous of everyone, but courteous and chivalrous at the same time. Shouldn’t be an issue.

Favored Ally (Likes): Fey.

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): Humans

Major Ability: 

Skill At Arms: As a swift, your weapon and supernatural attacks increase in damage by 3d6+3 for 1 round. This scales as you level - 4d6+4 at 13, and 5d6+5 at 17. This is not much on one hit, but you can really rack up the damage with iterative or area attacks. Because it is a swift, you can activate this, then activate another ability, such as Serapith’s laser or Aza’zati’s acid cone, boosting your damage accordingly. With iteratives however, this ability becomes especially nasty - equivalent to a +12 Str score or more. (Note that because this ability “increases the damage of your weapon,” you should get to combine this with Vital Strike too.)

Capstone Empowerment: Every attack or supernatural ability you land during this activation forces a fort save or the enemy falls prone. Bow to the king! With an area attack this basically acts like free Toppling Spell.

Minor Abilities:

Inspire Courage: As the bardic performance of the same name, half-strength. This means that not only does it scale (albeit poorly, to +2), but starting at 14th level this becomes a move action to activate. Deliver a kingly speech while you do this. Note that you must choose whether your performance is audible or visual each time you use it. Combine this with your Skill at Arms for a little more damage.

King’s Dancing Blade (VB): You summon a dancing sword whose enhancement bonus scales with your level. It lasts for 4 rounds, but you can summon a new one at-will. Note that it takes a full round to get the blade going - move to summon, then standard to release so it can start attacking. (Or you can just wield it yourself instead.) Great trick here - Dancing weapons are “considered wielded and attended for all effects that target items” - since Skill At Arms explicitly applies to your weapon, your sword gets the bonus even if it’s dancing.

Royal Pleasantries: You get a bonus to Diplomacy and Know (nobility.) These are good skills to have, especially the first one.

Corpsewhisper: you can send a message to a creature whose name you know, up to miles away. This is situational and unlikely to come up, but it can have surprising uses, for example to contact someone during a rescue mission even if you’ve never met them.

Vestigial Bond: In exchange for your sword, Arturius lends you the services of a Faerie Dragon. Dragon is a great creature type due to high skills, darkvision + LLV, all good saves, full BAB and immunities. Faerie Dragons in particular gain the following: 100ft. telepathy, 4 languages, UMD, huge stealth and fly checks, small breath weapon that renders a foe staggered/sickened; 3rd-level sorcerer casting, and 3/day greater invisibility (self only, sadly.) Lots of great utility here.

Overall rating: Good. Arturius is a powerhouse support spirit for melee and (surprisingly) caster Pactmakers alike, with yet another major that doesn’t especially care about your Cha score. A gishcultist who takes him, Cromwell and Fey Baraddu would be a force to be reckoned with.

Dagon, Tentacles from the Deep (DC 25)

Summary: This Lovecraftian horror helps you manipulate time, swim/fight like a squid and fills your mind with all the knowledge of the depths.

Constellation: Dark Beyond

Ceremony: You cook and eat some calamari. Hope it stayed fresh in your pouch.

Totems: (1) You’re a good swimmer (Swim 10 ranks.) (2) You know Dagon’s true name, requiring Know (Planes) 10 ranks. (3) You pact within sight of a lake or ocean.

Sign (Passive): Your skin turns aquamarine.

Sign (Active): Tiny writhing tentacles briefly cover your skin. Eww!

Influence: You love to get wet, and lose your filter around new people. This can get you in trouble near the king so stay back.

Favored Ally (Likes): Aberrations.

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): Any humanoid or aquatic animal.

Major Ability: 

Delay Harm: If nothing else this ability is very unique - as an immediate action, you delay any harmful attack or spell that would affect you for 1 round, ignoring it until your next turn. This is very broad - think along the lines of Iron Heart Surge, but a bit more clearly defined and a bit weaker (since you still suffer the effect, eventually.) At a minimum I would say anything that deals damage, inflicts a status condition of some kind, or has a (non-harmless) saving throw associated should be fair game. If the effect is an area attack, the delay still works, but only affects you. The ability to say “no!” (or at least “not yet!”) to negative levels, stun/paralysis, dominate and other nasty effects can be pretty handy, especially if you can quickly finish the battle before they become relevant again. Most importantly, the example shows you can delay something after you’ve failed the save.

Capstone Empowerment: Now you can delay the harmful effect for 1d4 rounds. This can let you ignore something potentially debilitating for potentially an entire combat. You still suffer the effects afterward, but hopefully by then you’ve mopped the floor with your assailant, or at least gotten to safety.

Minor Abilities:

Body of Dagon (VB): You become the one, the only, kraken-man! This grants you the following (for EBL+Cha rounds/day):

This is a polymorph effect, but unlike Baraddu, very few of the rider effects will be relevant here. What’s sad about this is that despite being the ultimate aquatic spirit, Fey Baraddu and even Aza’zati will make you a better swimmer, and both are lower level and give you natural armor besides. But this is still functional. The low duration hurts too (if you’re trying to swim any distance.)

Child of the Deeps: You gain a bonus on swim checks and can breathe underwater. This doesn’t give you a swim speed (see Body of Dagon for that) so once that effect wears off you will be forced to swim normally.

Dagon Knows: You get a boatload of divinations (as the spell) per day. This sounds nice on paper, but unfortunately, chances are you’re humanoid and Dagon therefore hates your guts; if that’s the case, you eat a whopping -50% to your chances at getting useful information, making this pretty much useless. Conversely, if you’re an aberration you will divine without fail. If you’re neither, you cast the spell normally. Since it’s a lot harder to not be humanoid in Pathfinder, this is going to be painful more often than not.

Whispers of Dagon: His best ability, you can make all knowledges untrained and get a huge insight bonus to all of them. Unfortunately, does not stack with Xalen and he probably does it better.

Vestigial Bond: You get a zombie cohort, with up to 2 HD less than you (including bonus HD), with your same base swim speed. As it is a cohort, you choose what you get, but be mindful that you can’t share Dagon’s powers with it. You also control it as though using Command Undead, which means basic commands only (“Go here” “Stand still” “Fight this” etc.) Don’t make it too big as this will cut down on your options, but a nice zombie dragon or sea monster is probably something to work towards.

Overall rating: Okay. Weak divinations and shapeshifting aside, Dagon does have some perks as a secondary. His Major is unique and can potentially be a lifesaver, especially if you stick that augmentation. If nothing else, it’s a good way to give your DM a headache, and that’s always a plus. The knowledge buffs are nice - I would go with him or Xalen, but not both.

Dark Blood, the Rakshasa Princes (DC 24)

Summary: This ghostly gestalt grants you nova potential, makes you the ultimate face, and lets you unleash bestial wrath on your foes.

Constellation: Fiend

Ceremony: You cut yourself for attention. Linkin Park CD optional.

Totems: (1) You speak Infernal or are male. (2) You rub the blood of a good outsider on yourself - note that this is an evil act. (3) You beat somebody up (even yourself) within the seal, doing half their total hit points in your choice of lethal or non-lethal damage.

Sign (Passive): You gain a beast’s head; you get to choose one. (Does not have to be feline.)

Sign (Active): Your hands reverse like a rakshasa’s briefly.

Influence: You swagger and act a bit more savage. Pretty minor considering the other stuff this guy wants you to do.

Favored Ally (Likes): Animals and Rakshasas.

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): Anyone with more HD than you. Since you’ll always have HD = your HD, this won’t affect your binding.

Major Ability: 

Thirst for Blood: In exchange for your swift, you get an extra standard action at the end of your turn; you are also staggered on the following round. Pathfinder Celerity! Well, almost; it’s a swift, not an immediate, but the drawback is lighter too (staggered instead of dazed.) This is a great power.

Capstone Empowerment: Instead of being staggered, you are simply fatigued for 4 rounds instead. As a reminder, you can’t run or charge and take a minor penalty to Str and Dex. Caster Pactmakers will barely notice the drawback; fatigue is pretty minor compared to staggered even if it lasts longer so go for it.

Minor Abilities:

Disguise Granted Abilities: You gain this bonus feat. At this point in the game you probably don’t need to be running from the villagers. but subtlety never hurts and Dark Blood has a pretty dramatic passive sign. This ability is nice to have if you screw up your check and make a bad pact, because nobody is going to react calmly to the guy with a tiger-head. Unfortunately, you gain nothing if you’ve already taken the feat on your own.

Rakshasa’s Rage (VB): You gain a barbarian’s rage, with a few additional benefits, as follows. You get the normal rage modifiers, i.e. +4 morale bonus to Str/Con, +2 morale to will saves, -2 to AC, bonus hit points, and the inability to use Cha/Dex/Int-based skills or abilities that require patience/concentration. (Note - supernatural abilities, such as your spirit powers, do not require concentration.) On top of these regular modifiers, Dark Blood gives you +2 natural armor (effectively cancelling out the AC loss from rage), +10 untyped bonus to your base speed, a 1d6+Str bite, and 2 1d4+Str claws. You get EBL+Cha rounds of rage/pact instead of 4+Con as well. Needless to say this ability will make you a powerhouse, and since it isn’t a polymorph effect, it will stack with several of your other quasi-shapeshift forms like N’alyia or Dagon. There may be a way to gain rage powers with this ability but I’m unclear on that. If you have a polymorph form like Baraddu, transform first and then activate this, and try to use a form that doesn’t have claws or a bite so you get all of them.

Read Mind: You can scan a creature’s mind as though using Detect Thoughts, except that it’s single-target, and you gain 3 rounds worth of information in a single standard action. This means that you can tell whether the creature has a mind, what its Int score is, and any surface thoughts it has, all in one standard action. Despite the targeting being cut down to one creature, this is still fantastic and has all sorts of story applications since you can use it at-will. Scan everybody at the corrupt lord’s ball and you’ll find the killer in no time...

Silver Tongue: You get a scaling bonus to all the face skills. Combined with Dark Blood’s ability to quickly scan the thoughts of whoever you’re speaking to and your Charisma, and you can talk your way out of just about anything. Fantastic!

Vestigial Bond: You get quite a sneaky and unique familiar (wizard) - a raktavarna, weakest of all rakshasa. They basically look like little snakes that can turn into daggers (or other tiny items) making him perhaps the easiest familiar to conceal. This little guy brings several goodies to the table:

This is one of the best familiars in the game for recon purposes. Combine its already massive bluff modifier with your Silver Tongue, PLUS the ability to read the target’s mind, and it’s going to be able to lie the pants of anyone in existence.

Overall rating: Excellent. Dark Blood is great both on his own and combined with other spirits. His abilities synergize quite well with each other and he makes you deadly in a fight too. This is another of the rare spirits that is a great choice for both caster and gish Pactmakers. His social buffs are powerful indeed, making you the smoothest-talking furry on the block. Subtler Pactmakers will likely want the familiar instead of the rage ability, but both are good.

Vodavox, the Hive Mind (DC 25)

Summary: This psychic sectoid

Constellation: Beast

Ceremony: You put an egg in his seal, and ponder the age-old question.

Totems: (1) You’re a drow, insectoid, or can read minds (without using another spirit.) (2) You impress either of Vodavox’s aspects (using 10 ranks in Know Nature or Know Arcana); (3) You engage in a little harmless cannibalism(???).

Sign (Passive): You get an insect’s head (and, er, “other parts”), plus a carapace.

Sign (Active): A swarm of gnats surrounds you (they do nothing.)

Influence: When hungry or threatened, you do not feel pain or empathy. Get your square meals a day, keep away from prisoners during a fight, and watch out for pets while you’re at it.

Favored Ally (Likes): Vermin and anyone with psionics.

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): Humanoids.

Major Ability: 

Phrenic Blast: You unleash a 30 foot cone of untyped damage.  Untyped is nice, but you’re at the level where 1d4/2 levels just does not cut the mustard anymore (if it ever did). It’s also will negates, limiting it even further, though this at least means it can’t be Evaded. If you must use this, consider beefing it up with Arturius.

Capstone Empowerment: Affected creatures that fail the save for no damage are also dazed for 1 round. Very few things are immune to daze, and the DC for this scales like any of your other abilities, so like Loh’moi’s laser you can actually treat this as the primary effect and the weak damage as a bonus. Note also that you can “charge it up” for a few rounds, increasing the DC by 1-3 depending on how long you charge it. Given that the DC already scales with your level automatically, you can get it pretty nasty and hard to resist. It’s also not mind-affecting by RAW, though logically it probably should be, so feel free to daze skeletons or golems or whatever with it.

Minor Abilities:

Aberrant Mind: +4 untyped to saving throws vs. mind-affecting. Not amazing but not bad either.

Insectoid Body (Sign): Insight bonus to Escape Artist and Perception. Two very useful skills. You also triple your carrying capacity - proportional insect strength! Finally, you get +2 natural AC; this is untyped, so it should stack with barkskin, amulets, racial bonuses or similar effects. All in all, a good reason to bind him.

Spell-Warding Chitin (Sign): You gain SR = EBL +Cha. This is likely to be weaker than the Spell Resistance spell itself, but at least this scales better (potentially) and can’t be dispelled.

Telepathic Bond (VB): As the spell, but can’t be dispelled, lasts longer (24 hours or the duration of your pact), and takes longer to establish (10 minutes.) Do this in the morning. Telepathic Bond is almost mandatory for high-level parties and you get this at the same level as primary casters do. Personally though, I’d leave this up to the casters and get the companion instead.

Vestigial Bond: You gain your choice of one of the following companions each time you pact: giant centipede, giant leech, giant mantis, giant scorpion or giant wasp. These have potential as you climb levels, so let’s try and break them down.

To start with, they are Vermin companions - this makes them mindless, which cuts down the tricks they can learn (they still get the bonus tricks from the companion table, +1 base trick.) They also don’t learn feats or skills as a result. You can apply their bonus stat from gaining HD to Int, allowing them to learn feats and skills but costing them the mindless trait afterward, so decide which you want. They all start at level 11 because Vodavox is a 5th-level spirit, so keep that in mind when you’re advancing them and the other animal companion goodies. Finally, they are difficult to trip due to all their legs.

Here’s the breakdown:

Giant Centipede: Starts Small, can’t be tripped at all. Can eventually become medium. Has one bite complete with Dex damage poison.

Giant Leech: Aquatic. Very slow on land, so only call it in water. Also cannot be tripped. 30ft. Blindsight is highly useful, but the slow speed makes it a liability a lot of the time. Starts Small and can get to Medium. One slam, but also has attach which = auto-grapple therefore ruining a caster’s day; it must roll to maintain the grapple normally on subsequent round however (but with a +8 racial bonus.)

Giant Mantis: Starts at Medium, can get to Large at EBL 7. 40ft. fly speed and 30ft. climb means this guy can be a handy mount. 2 claws with grab make him a handy lockdown combatant. Finally, it can make a lunge attack at double its normal reach as a full-round action, and this attack also has reach. After it grows, it also gains the ability to full-attack in the surprise round and to chew on grabbed foes. Can be tripped but gains a +8 to resist. A very solid choice.

Giant Scorpion: 40ft. land speed. Starts medium and can get to Large. Similar to the Mantis except it can’t fly or climb, but has a nasty poison sting instead. Can be tripped but gains a +12 to resist. Aside from that, so far the mantis is better, so why is this guy blue? Three words: 60ft. tremorsense.

Giant Wasp: Starts medium and can get to large. Can be tripped but gains a +8 to resist. Only one attack (a sting of course) but this is the fastest flyer of the bunch at 60ft, so if you need to get somewhere in a hurry this is your guy. For general utility though I would stick to the Mantis.

Overall rating: Good.  Vodavox is one you’ll want to ace the check on for his great dazing cone. He’s great on a caster Pactmaker for this reason (and the fact that you’ll want a high will save DC for it.) His companion also makes a great mount for you, zipping you around the battlefield, fighting for you and keeping you out of harm’s way. Even if you remove their mindless trait, they still get Aberrant Mind to help protect them from will saves.

PMU2

Circe’s Runes, Refuge of Pacts (DC 23)

Summary:

Constellation: Scholar

Ceremony: You burn some books about magic in her seal. (Note: these do not have to be spellbooks, and certainly not expensive ones.)

Totems: (1) You burn a spellbook with at least one 1st-level spell in it. (2) You’ve been spurned by a lover within 24 hours OR you pact on an island. (3) You have a spell on you. (Note: this does not have to be a buff.)

Sign (Passive): The runes you have chosen (see her “Circe’s Runes” ability below) get tattooed onto your skin.

Sign (Active): The tattoo glows. (How bright? FAQ?)

Influence: Casting spells, or using granted abilities that duplicate spells, makes you curse at the top of your lungs. Circe isn’t very subtle so be careful when you choose to bind her.

Favored Ally (Likes): Any Outsider.

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): Any Humanoid.

Major Ability: 

Séance of Circe: You can eject any spirit and replace it with another one, all as a single full-round action. (Note that this can be used on Circe herself.) This is

Capstone Empowerment: XYZ.

Minor Abilities:

Inspire Terror: Description.

Murder Master: Description.

Spatial Bleeding: Description.

Vestigial Bond: None!

Overall rating: Okay. Rationale.

Al’kra, the Operated (DC 17)

Summary:

Constellation: Dark Beyond

Ceremony: xyz

Totems: (1) You. (2) You. (3) You.

Sign (Passive): You.

Sign (Active): xyz.

Influence: You.

Favored Ally (Likes): xyz.

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): xyz.

Major Ability: 

Paranoid Chill: ABC.

Capstone Empowerment: XYZ.

Minor Abilities:

Inspire Terror: Description.

Murder Master: Description.

Spatial Bleeding: Description.

Vestigial Bond: None!

Overall rating: Okay. Rationale.

Al’kra, the Operated (DC 17)

Summary:

Constellation: Dark Beyond

Ceremony: xyz

Totems: (1) You. (2) You. (3) You.

Sign (Passive): You.

Sign (Active): xyz.

Influence: You.

Favored Ally (Likes): xyz.

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): xyz.

Major Ability: 

Paranoid Chill: ABC.

Capstone Empowerment: XYZ.

Minor Abilities:

Inspire Terror: Description.

Murder Master: Description.

Spatial Bleeding: Description.

Vestigial Bond: None!

Overall rating: Okay. Rationale.

6th Level

Demos Kalagos, Sworn Enemy of Time (DC 27)

Summary: This tricky traveler will have you violating confounding causality and your foes alike.

Constellation: Thief

Ceremony: You perform a summoning ceremony for “a powerful outsider” backwards. (This is really unclear - do you need to actually cast it, such as from a scroll or spell,  or do you just say the words? And does knowing the words require a Spellcraft check?) My suggestion is that this simply means you know the verbal component for Planar Binding/Ally or a higher calling spell, which would require a spellcraft check sufficient to identify those spells being cast.

Totems:  (1) Place a 2500gp item you have stolen in his seal (thankfully, this is a focus, i.e. reusable.) (2) You have 12 ranks in Disable Device, or you’re a gnome/kobold. (3) You have 12 ranks in Know (Arcana.)

Sign (Passive): You randomly appear either one age category older or younger. This effect is cosmetic.

Sign (Active): You switch between older/younger every time you activate an ability.

Influence: You get pissy. Not too bad.

Favored Ally (Likes): Illusionists (including monsters with illusion abilities.)

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): Teleporters.

Major Ability: 

Time Trick: If you thought Dagon’s power could mess with the game flow, you haven’t seen anything yet. This powerful defensive ability lets you undo a target’s actions during the last round, making it as though they did nothing that round (will negates.) To help explain the intent of this ability, I’ll quote the designer directly:

“If you got fireballed in the face and you used Time Trick on the caster, the fireball spell would return to the caster's memory and all of the damage it dealt would be undone.

On the other hand, if you Time Tricked yourself in that same scenario, all of your actions would be undone, but you wouldn't lose the hit point damage you took because Time Trick only affects its targets' actions.”

Where this gets a bit messy is that it only affects the target - so decisions made by other characters in response to their action could become invalidated. So if your ally drank a health potion in response to that fireball, and you undid it, the damage from the fireball would be removed but the ally’s health potion would still be gone. Exercise caution when using this.

Capstone Empowerment: You undo the target as well as their action, mazing them for 1d4 rounds if they failed their save. Maze is a fantastic debuff and yours ignores SR. If it weren’t for the will save (and the potentially short duration) I would rate this purple.

Minor Abilities:

Borrow Time: You can take two swift actions - doing so prevents you from taking any (including immediates) next turn. Note that nothing stops you from taking your 2 swifts + immediate THIS turn. That’s probably a good way to get a CRB upside the head though. Anyway, this is a great ability - particularly in PF where many  powerful abilities are balanced by being swifts.

Create Trap: You can make any ranger trap out of thin air. This is a full-round action and the trap appears within 30 feet of you - including under a foe if you wish, in which case the trap instantly goes off. If an enemy saves against one of your traps they become immune to all of them for 24 hours. The save DC scales with your level, as do the Perception DC to notice it or the Disable DC to remove it. You can only have one out a time , but it lasts until triggered (or your pact ends), great if you need to guard a chokepoint (and they appear to persist even if you move out of range.) Note however that all of your traps are supernatural, even if you attempt to set an Ex trap or the Ex version of a dual-trap. However, Ranger traps use the Location Trigger, which can be problematic; enemies can walk around their square, and fliers/burrowers are generally unaffected at all. The full-round to set these can also be a problem. Finally, the “one trap at a a time” restriction hurts because it makes some traps off-limits, namely the ones that get added to another trap like Burning. (i.e. you try and add the augment trap and the base trap vanishes.)

 Here’s what you get from this and the ratings:

 

Resist Time and Space: You become immune to any effect that tries to age you or teleport you against your will. There aren’t many offensive teleportations, but the few that exist are typically quite nasty, so this can be situationally useful. Aging effects meanwhile come up even less often and tend to be less dramatic/life-threatening.

Trapfinding: As the rogue ability. Not as necessary in PF, but it’s nice that there’s a spirit that grants it all the same.

Vestigial Bond: None. Boo! Hiss!

Overall rating: Good. Demos has a lot of funky/unique abilities, so you’ll likely have to sit down with your DM before binding this guy, but even the bare minimum is quite powerful. Free, spammable traps, swift action novas, Trapfinding, and of course his rewind ability will have you messing with causality left and right. Just keep an eye out for Quaruts (or a blue police box) and run like hell if you hear them coming. Even with no companion, he is a solid secondary spirit both offensively and defensively.

Jayna Warlock, Traveler of Worlds (DC 26)

Summary: This jaunting genie comes in seven lovely flavors of whoop-ass.

Constellation: Scholar

Ceremony: You combine the 7 elements (air, earth, water, fire, wood, metal, and... void?) into a brazier. (Go Planet!) As part of the ceremony, you choose one of the 7 to be your primary for the duration of the pact - this will determine some of your powers below.

Totems: (1) You’re a suli, geniekind (e.g. Ifrit) or have 12 ranks in Know (Planes.) (2) You use an expensive brazier costing at least 3000gp. (3) You pact either on an elemental plane, or within 10 feet of a portal leading to one. (Hmm - does a portable hole count as Void?)

Sign (Passive): Your skin looks and feels like your chosen element. Not sure what this means for void either.

Sign (Active): You are surrounded by a nimbus of void. (Seriously, wtf is void??)

Influence: You get PMS. Wonderful. (Be careful, as the DM could interpret “lash out” to mean “attack,” so be sure to ask the party not to talk to you if you fail your pact.)

Favored Ally (Likes): Geniekind and Suli.

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): Elementals.

Major Ability: 

Jayna’s Wish: Anyspell! You get to cast any wizard elemental school spell of your chosen element up to 4th-level, except it’s still supernatural, and uses the save DC of a granted ability rather than a spell (making even the lower-level choices useful/powerful.) Note: if the duration is longer than Instantaneous, it is shortened to 4 rounds instead. As you can imagine, there’s a WIDE variety of effects you can get with this - I’ll list them below, but rating them will have to wait for another section or subguide. Just know that there are a lot of useful options here and again, be aware that even the low level choices will have pretty respectable saving throws. Best of all, you can pump the DC on ALL of them via  “Ability Focus: Jayna’s Wish” or similar effects.

Air: 0th—Message; 1st—alter winds, feather fall, shocking grasp; 2nd—elemental speech, elemental touch, glide, gust of wind, levitate, resist energy, summon monster II, whispering wind; 3rd—cloak of winds, draconic reservoir, elemental aura, fly, gaseous form, lightning bolt, protection from energy, wind wall; 4th—ball lightning, detonate, dragon's breath, elemental body I, river of wind, shout, summon monster IV.

Earth: 0th—acid splash; 1st—expeditious excavation, grease, stone fist; 2nd—acid arrow, create pit, elemental speech, elemental touch, glitterdust, resist energy, shatter, stone call, summon monster II; 3rd—draconic reservoir, elemental aura, protection from energy, shifting sand, spiked pit, stinking cloud; 4th—acid pit, calcific touch, detonate, dragon's breath, elemental body I, stone shape, stoneskin, summon monster IV.

Fire: 0th—spark; 1st—burning hands, dancing lantern; 2nd—burning gaze, elemental speech, elemental touch, fire breath, flaming sphere, pyrotechnics, resist energy, scorching ray, summon monster II; 3rd—campfire wall, draconic reservoir, elemental aura, fireball, flame arrow, protection from energy; 4th—detonate, dragon's breath, elemental body I, fire shield, fire trap, firefall, summon monster IV, wall of fire.

Water:  0th—ray of frost; 1st—hydraulic push, obscuring mist, touch of the sea; 2nd—accelerate poison, elemental speech, elemental touch, fog cloud, resist energy, slipstream, summon monster II; 3rd—aqueous orb, draconic reservoir, elemental aura, hydraulic torrent, protection from energy, sleet storm, water breathing; 4th—detonate, dragon's breath, elemental body I, ice storm, solid fog, summon monster IV, wall of ice.

Wood:  0—light; 1st—alter winds, animate rope, charm person; 2nd—cat’s grace, entangle, protection from arrows, web, whispering wind; 3rd—cloak of winds, tongues, tree shape, wind wall; 4th—charm monster, hallucinatory terrain, minor creation, plant growth, river of wind, secure shelter, sirocco;

Metal: 0th—mending; 1st—gravity bow, magic weapon, shocking grasp; 2nd—defensive shock, glitterdust, make whole, shatter, silk to steel; 3rd—chill metal, heat metal, lightning bolt, keen edge, greater magic weapon, versatile weapon; 4th—malfunction, shout, stoneskin.

 

Void: 0th—guidance; 1st—gravity bow, keen senses, shield, true strike; 2nd—continual flame, haunting mists, invisibility, masterwork transformation, see invisibility, share memory; 3rd—arcane sight, clairaudience/clairvoyance, dispel magic, nondetection, seek thoughts, call the void, twilight knife; 4th—minor creation, moonstruck, wandering star motes

Capstone Empowerment: Now you go up to 5th-level spells. Very good stuff here. Let’s see what else we get:

Air: 5th—elemental body III, overland flight, planar adaptation, planar binding, lesser, suffocation, summon monster V.

Earth: 5th—elemental body III, hungry pit, passwall, planar adaptation, planar binding, lesser, summon monster V, transmute mud to rock, transmute rock to mud, wall of stone.

Fire: 5th—elemental body III, fire snake, geyser, planar adaptation, planar binding, lesser, summon monster V.

Water: 5th—cloudkill, cone of cold, elemental body III, geyser, planar adaptation, planar binding, lesser, summon monster V.

Wood: 5th—command plants, fabricate, fickle winds, mirage arcana, sending, telepathic bond.

Metal: 5th—lightning arc, major creation, rapid repair, rusting grasp, soothe construct, unbreakable construct.

Void:  5th—fabricate, major creation, mind fog, telepathic bond, teleport.

Minor Abilities:

Aspect of Seven: As noted in the Ceremony, this is the ability that makes you choose an element. No rating.

Song of Elemental Fury: With a touch, you deal 5d6 damage corresponding to your chosen element. It’s nice that this is at-will but the damage is low for the level you get it, and you don’t get iteratives or anything. Void does Sonic, while Earth, Metal and Wood do physical damage (bludgeoning, slashing and piercing respectively) while the others do energy damage. None do acid.

Song of Rising Barriers: You create a wall corresponding to your chosen element, as the related spell. (So wall of fire for fire, wall of ice for water, wall of stone for earth, wind wall for air, wall of iron for metal, wall of thorns for wood, and wall of force for void.) You can only have one out at a time but these are still insanely useful, particularly Void. Note: the designer has FAQ’d the walls to last for 4 rounds, including the Earth wall (which would normally have been instantaneous.)

Song of Waning Elements: You gain either resistance (=EBL) or DR (=½ EBL) corresponding to your chosen element. The DR is high but easy to bypass, so don’t count on it mattering a whole lot, particularly against natural weapons.

Vestigial Bond: None. But with this much power, do you really need one?

Overall rating: Excellent. Jayna’s power is formidable, and she can easily serve as a primary vestige. She’s also the best blaster of all your spirits thus far (since her “spells” get d6/level instead of every other level, even with the cooldown, plus she can throw up energy walls), and she is likely to keep that crown all the way to endgame. These are Zceryll levels of power.

Serapith, the Scouring Light (DC 25)

Summary: This angry angel smites and scours your foes into nothingness.

Constellation: Angel

Ceremony: You fill the lines of his seal with candles and light them in sequence. Hope you weren’t trying to be sneaky with your pacting.

Totems: (1) You’re an Aasimar or have 12 ranks in Know (Planes). (2) You have 12 ranks in Know (Religion.) (3) You use the blood of fiends to draw his seal.

Sign (Passive): You sprout white angel wings.

Sign (Active): Your wings pulse red. Exterminate!

Influence: You become Miko. At least you can’t detect evil, but still, best not to go meet the corrupt duke whose help the party needs if you’re under this spirit’s influence.

Favored Ally (Likes): Good-subtyped outsiders.

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): All Humanoids. Some Angel!

Major Ability: 

Scouring Light: You disintegrate a target with a 60’ ray, doing 1d6/level (5d6 on a failed save.) Finally, a decent blast, but too little too late -  you have Jayna now too, and Serapith only harms creatures. It also has a fort save, making it paradoxically useless against undead, though that does fit with Serapith’s legend a bit (he is more concerned with righteously frying the living before they can succumb to temptation, and therefore considers the undead too late to “save” - real charmer, this guy.) Still, the damage is at least untyped.

Capstone Empowerment: Your damage goes up to 2d6/lvl when zapping a humanoid. This is a common enough enemy type that this should be useful. If you’re not fighting any in your campaign though you don’t have to worry about this and can safely skip it.

Minor Abilities:

Angel’s Wings (VB): Serapith’s sign is for more than just show, as it lets you take to the sky at your base speed for EBL+Cha minutes per day. Once again. no maneuverability is given, so use average. Flight is useful but you can do better with Fey Baraddu.

Serapith’s Protection: +2 deflection to AC and +2 resistance to saves. Scales to +3 at 15 and +4 at 19. By this level you can certainly do better, and you almost certainly have these bonus types already. His familiar gives you these bonuses too and they do not stack.

Smite Enemy: You can smite Serapith’s favored enemy (i.e. any humanoid), adding your Cha modifier to the attack roll and your EBL to the damage roll. This applies to both weapon attacks and supernatural abilities (including his eyebeam), as well as other spirit powers like Jayna’s spells. Not bad at all, and this is infinite use as long as each target dies. With this, you’re looking at 22d6+11 starting damage to humans from his eye lasers with a scaling DC, and the target is disintegrated if they die - add in the bonus to hit and you’ve got a pretty deadly buff. Pity it only works on humanoids though.

Wrath of Daylight: You blast the area of a daylight spell around you (60ft. radius) with an instantaneous flare, blinding anyone who fails a fort save permanently. This is brutal - unfortunately, your allies are vulnerable to this too, and since it’s a minor, Selective Ability won’t let you exclude them. (Note: the designer has said that it wouldn’t be gamebreaking to let Selective Ability apply to minor abilities too - talk to your DM.) Make sure your allies take cover (daylight is an emanation, i.e. a burst, and so won’t go around corners to get at them), or send Serapith’s familiar into the enemy’s midst to fire it off more safely. Being supernatural, dispel magic won’t turn off the blindenss either - they will actually need remove blindness, limited wish, heal etc to get rid of it. If the enemy makes their save they are immune for 24 hours.

Vestigial Bond: You gain a cassisian familiar; this is a small angel that looks like a winged helmet. Being an Angel, it gets the standard angel traits - Darkvision 60, LLV, Acid/Cold/Petrify immunity, Fire/Electric resistance 10, +4 racial bonus against poison, and Truespeech - but unfortunately you don’t get the permanent Magic Circle against Evil or Globe of Invulnerability 20ft. This is a bummer - but your familiar does get the following helpful SLAs: constant detect evil (be VERY careful if you’re under Serapith’s influence), constant know direction, 1/day aid and daylight, and best of all, 1/week Commune. But wait,there’s more - Perfect Memory, 60ft. perfect flight, DR 5/cold iron or evil, and it can morph into a cherub, dove, dog or tiny fish. Finally, it does get a weaker version of the angel aura that you can benefit from, giving you +2 deflection and +2 resistance to saving throws vs. evil creatures.

Overall rating: Good. Serapith isn’t the best vestige for this level but he can definitely hold his own. His influence and Wrath of Daylight can put the party on your bad side, but in a humanoid-heavy campaign his smite can make up for it.

Death Howls, Knights of the Ghostlands (DC 17)

Summary:

Constellation: Dark Beyond

Ceremony: xyz

Totems: (1) You. (2) You. (3) You.

Sign (Passive): You.

Sign (Active): xyz.

Influence: You.

Favored Ally (Likes): xyz.

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): xyz.

Major Ability: 

Paranoid Chill: ABC.

Capstone Empowerment: XYZ.

Minor Abilities:

Inspire Terror: Description.

Murder Master: Description.

Spatial Bleeding: Description.

Vestigial Bond: None!

Overall rating: Okay. Rationale.

Al’kra, the Operated (DC 17)

Summary:

Constellation: Dark Beyond

Ceremony: xyz

Totems: (1) You. (2) You. (3) You.

Sign (Passive): You.

Sign (Active): xyz.

Influence: You.

Favored Ally (Likes): xyz.

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): xyz.

Major Ability: 

Paranoid Chill: ABC.

Capstone Empowerment: XYZ.

Minor Abilities:

Inspire Terror: Description.

Murder Master: Description.

Spatial Bleeding: Description.

Vestigial Bond: None!

Overall rating: Okay. Rationale.

Al’kra, the Operated (DC 17)

Summary:

Constellation: Dark Beyond

Ceremony: xyz

Totems: (1) You. (2) You. (3) You.

Sign (Passive): You.

Sign (Active): xyz.

Influence: You.

Favored Ally (Likes): xyz.

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): xyz.

Major Ability: 

Paranoid Chill: ABC.

Capstone Empowerment: XYZ.

Minor Abilities:

Inspire Terror: Description.

Murder Master: Description.

Spatial Bleeding: Description.

Vestigial Bond: None!

Overall rating: Okay. Rationale.

Al’kra, the Operated (DC 17)

Summary:

Constellation: Dark Beyond

Ceremony: xyz

Totems: (1) You. (2) You. (3) You.

Sign (Passive): You.

Sign (Active): xyz.

Influence: You.

Favored Ally (Likes): xyz.

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): xyz.

Major Ability: 

Paranoid Chill: ABC.

Capstone Empowerment: XYZ.

Minor Abilities:

Inspire Terror: Description.

Murder Master: Description.

Spatial Bleeding: Description.

Vestigial Bond: None!

Overall rating: Okay. Rationale.

7th level

Mare Loviatha, the Ice Queen (DC 27)

Summary: This frigid phantom brings the pain no matter how well her enemies roll.

Constellation: Mage

Ceremony: Singing snowy songs, you soak snake skins.

Totems: (1) You agree not to bind other female spirits (and have none bound already.) (2) You have Know (nobility) 14 ranks. (3) You can speak Elven.

Sign (Passive): A black unicorn horn grows out of your forehead.

Sign (Active): Your skin and hair turn black briefly.

Influence: You become suspicious and ignore all offers of aid.

Favored Ally (Likes): Horses, Unicorns, and [Cold] subtyped creatures.

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): [Fire] subtyped creatures and summoners.

Major Ability: 

Wrath of the Ice Queen: You petrify a target within 30 ft. (fort negates) that can see you, except they turn to ice instead of stone. Ice is crystalline and thus you or someone else can take them down with a Shatter after that; fort negates. As written this will work on incorporeal targets too (though not undead ones.) It’s also unclear if they can melt in excessive heat/sun.

Capstone Empowerment: Even creatures that succeed on their save become staggered for 1 round. This therefore becomes no-save stagger with a chance to petrify - not bad at all.

Minor Abilities:

Burden of Guilt (VB): You force a creature to start hurting itself for 1d8+Str damage every round (will negates.) This lasts a long time (EBL rounds but only has one save. However, it’s not clear what action they need to take to do this (if any) or whether the damage just happens automatically, whether it’s capable of interrupting a spell etc. Note that even if they save this staggers them for 1 round (and penalizes their AC), giving you another no-save-stagger. Update: the designer has clarified that the self-attack uses up their standard action, and I have upgraded this ability to blue accordingly.

Dark Horn: You gain a gore attack that deals 1d6+Str damage and counts as evil for overcoming DR. Baraddu gives you much better. Note that this is tied to your sign, so you can use it while shapeshifted into something else by

Mare’s Whispers: You get a bonus to Handle Animal and Ride. Meh.

Mounted Prowess: You gain the Mounted Combat and Mounted Archery feats. These will potentially go well with your mount below.

Vestigial Bond: You get a black unicorn animal companion. It’s very smart (+10 profane bonus to all mental ability scores) and has a constant magic circle against good and a gore attack. Unfortunately, aside from those differences, it has the stats of a horse rather than a unicorn e.g. no darkvision. There are also few abilities to share with it - it can’t use Handle Animal or Ride or the mounted combat feats. It does have a gore attack so it can be specced as a charger of sorts (particularly since it gets combat training), and large size + multiattack are nice. MCG isn’t the best ability around since a lot of high level foes are evil.

Overall rating: Good. Post-clarification from the designer, I think Mare is a decent option. Given the combat feats she gives you access to and that both her activated abilities have useful effects on a successful save (effectively, no-save stagger for two rounds on any enemy), she actually makes a decent choice for gish Pactmakers as well, particularly ones with Mute Sylvus bound. For a caster, she is a decent secondary source of lockdown/denial, particularly since she targets two separate saves (and again, is useful even if they make it.)

Musha’Vadu, the Shadow-Bones Emperor (DC 27)

Summary: This dark spirit bends the shadows themselves to your bidding.

Constellation: Skull

Ceremony: You offer a toast using the blood of a child. (Note: can be animal blood - kill a fawn or something.)

Totems: (1) you draw his seal in darkness. (2) You have 14 ranks in Know (Planes.) (3) You draw his seal with black chalk.

Sign (Passive): Your skin appears ashen.

Sign (Active): Your shadow makes different gestures than you for awhile.

Influence: You get surly and jealous. Not too bad.

Favored Ally (Likes): Shadow plane creatures.

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): Mortals. Yikes!

Major Ability: 

Shadow Storm: You hit a 20’ radius cylinder with a blast of shadows, dealing 7d4 negative energy damage + 1d4/2 levels. And here I thought Serapith meant we were out of the weak blasting zone.  Save for half - per the designer, this is likely to be errata’d to Reflex Half. (currently it is unspecified.)

Capstone Empowerment: For 4 rounds, the shadows you summon linger in the area (but not the damage effect) creating a deeper darkness effect. This plus your Umbral Sight can give you a place to hide, once the damage portion is over at least.

Minor Abilities:

Aging Touch: You can steal the youth of enemies, becoming younger and making them older and healing a small amount of HP/ability damage in the process. This is truly nasty for a BBEG Pactmaker and can effectively make Pactmakers immortal prior to their capstone.

Shadow Conjuration (VB): As the spell - at-will, but you can only make one at a time. With a scaling DC this can get pretty nasty. Pity it’s not GSC or Shades though.

Shadow Walk: As the spell. This has a use limit (3+Cha/day) and you must expend multiple uses to bring people with you (up to ½ EBL per trip.)

Umbral Sight: You can see through all forms of darkness. Combos well with Deeper Darkness if you can get it.

Vestigial Bond: You can summon your shadow, like a Shadowdancer. At this level few shadows are likely to be threatening in a fight, even with more HP; it can be a tough choice to go with this or the much more versatile SC. You don’t get to share any of your abilities with it either. However, it does make a fantastic scout due to flight, incorporeality, high stealth/perception and the ability to communicate with you. Send it through a door and have it report what is on the other side for instance, or travel through the floor to flank with your melee.

Overall rating: Good. Mushy has some great utility and mild blasting potential. Any vestige that can make you functionally immortal (if you don’t mind running around being a moroi) is aces in my book.

Portenta, Seer of the Orphic Eye (DC 28)

Summary: Portenta helps you see what’s coming in more ways than one.

Constellation: Seer (naturally.)

Ceremony: You look into a mirror. Well that one’s easy.

Totems: (1) You use a crystal ball as a focus. (2) You’re an orc, half-orc, elf, half-elf, or you can speak both languages. (3) You have Know (nature) 14 ranks.

Sign (Passive): A third eye opens in your forehead.

Sign (Active): None. (Does it blink maybe?)

Influence: You demand the best. Give someone your coinpurse before binding this one.

Favored Ally (Likes): Anyone who you love or loves you. (i.e. love yourself)

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): Undead.

Major Ability: 

Fuse Flesh: The targeted opponent makes two saves (fort and will.) A fort failure causes them to become entangled and take 1d6 points of physical ability damage. A will failure causes them to go insane (permanent confusion) and take 1d6 points of mental ability damage. You choose the attribute in either case. The will save is the more debilitating of the two but both of these are quite nasty. Note that the entangle is unlikely to be anchored to anything, so they will remain mobile (if hampered.)

Capstone Empowerment: You deal damage to two ability scores per failed save instead of one. (i.e. max of 4 scores hit.)

Minor Abilities:

Dream Destiny: You can help a target tell its future after 1 minute of meditation. This ability is very DM-dependent and not likely to work in most campaigns; in addition, if you fail the check you get a false vision and can’t tell. I would skip using this unless your DM is very permissive.

Orphic Foresight: You get a +4 insight to Initiative, and can swap initiative results with one of your allies after everyone rolls. They get no say in the matter. Brilliant! Expect the party not to be happy with you though; focus on cohorts/companions with this if you can.

Spirit Step (VB): You can become incorporeal for EBL+Cha rounds/day, divided as you wish. Incorporeal is a powerful defense. By RAW, becoming incorporeal gives you your Cha to AC too - as a deflection bonus no less, which also adds it to your CMD! (Not that many maneuvers will work on you while incorporeal anyway.)

True Sight: As the spell, for rounds = ½ EBL + Cha per day, used as you wish - no material component. Very handy indeed.

Vestigial Bond: You can get any animal companion (DM’s choice, sadly) which is the target of an awaken spell. In spite of awaken’s prohibition, the designer has confirmed that your spiritual bond transcends the spell’s normal limitations and so the VB will serve as your animal companion normally, if with a slightly haughty attitude. You share your true seeing with it, which is nice, but the initiative ability sadly won’t mean much (it acts on your initiative) and neither will the weird prophetic dream power. I would probably stick with Spirit Step.

Overall rating: Excellent. Have I mentioned I love initiative shenanigans? There’s some parts of this spirit that could use clarifying but it’s not too shabby otherwise. Componentless true seeing and incorporeality are icing on the cake. A very strong support spirit, especially for caster Pactmakers.

Al’kra, the Operated (DC 17)

Summary:

Constellation: Dark Beyond

Ceremony: xyz

Totems: (1) You. (2) You. (3) You.

Sign (Passive): You.

Sign (Active): xyz.

Influence: You.

Favored Ally (Likes): xyz.

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): xyz.

Major Ability: 

Paranoid Chill: ABC.

Capstone Empowerment: XYZ.

Minor Abilities:

Inspire Terror: Description.

Murder Master: Description.

Spatial Bleeding: Description.

Vestigial Bond: None!

Overall rating: Okay. Rationale.

Al’kra, the Operated (DC 17)

Summary:

Constellation: Dark Beyond

Ceremony: xyz

Totems: (1) You. (2) You. (3) You.

Sign (Passive): You.

Sign (Active): xyz.

Influence: You.

Favored Ally (Likes): xyz.

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): xyz.

Major Ability: 

Paranoid Chill: ABC.

Capstone Empowerment: XYZ.

Minor Abilities:

Inspire Terror: Description.

Murder Master: Description.

Spatial Bleeding: Description.

Vestigial Bond: None!

Overall rating: Okay. Rationale.

Al’kra, the Operated (DC 17)

Summary:

Constellation: Dark Beyond

Ceremony: xyz

Totems: (1) You. (2) You. (3) You.

Sign (Passive): You.

Sign (Active): xyz.

Influence: You.

Favored Ally (Likes): xyz.

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): xyz.

Major Ability: 

Paranoid Chill: ABC.

Capstone Empowerment: XYZ.

Minor Abilities:

Inspire Terror: Description.

Murder Master: Description.

Spatial Bleeding: Description.

Vestigial Bond: None!

Overall rating: Okay. Rationale.

Al’kra, the Operated (DC 17)

Summary:

Constellation: Dark Beyond

Ceremony: xyz

Totems: (1) You. (2) You. (3) You.

Sign (Passive): You.

Sign (Active): xyz.

Influence: You.

Favored Ally (Likes): xyz.

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): xyz.

Major Ability: 

Paranoid Chill: ABC.

Capstone Empowerment: XYZ.

Minor Abilities:

Inspire Terror: Description.

Murder Master: Description.

Spatial Bleeding: Description.

Vestigial Bond: None!

Overall rating: Okay. Rationale.

8th level

Essek Avix, the Twins Rejoined (DC 29)

Summary: This draconic duo fuels you with fission and fear.

Constellation: Dragon

Ceremony: You melt two candles into one.

Totems: (1) You have a sibling (same gender) watch you pact; (2) You’re an elf, have dragon heritage, or speak elvish with Know (History) 14 ranks; (3) Your candles cost 50gp.

Sign (Passive): Half your face gets dragony.

Sign (Active): None

Influence: You waffle.

Favored Ally (Likes): Any humanoid or dragon.

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): Any outsider.

Major Ability: 

Split the Twins: You copy yourself (your twin wears masterwork, mundane copies of your gear) for 4 rounds. You pool all resources into one except actions, which stack (i.e. one of you using a major ability starts its cooldown for both of you, but you can use one major while your twin uses another) and do not share summons, companions or other creature-granting abilities. Your twin’s personality is the opposite of yours but it will never work against you or try to harm you. Even with the cooldowns, this doubles your actions, so you can do some impressive novas with this.

Capstone Empowerment: Your twin’s weapons and armor copy all magical benefits. They cannot be sold, stored or transferred but this is otherwise great.

Minor Abilities:

Ferocious Display: You can Dazzling Display (as the feat) at-will - except yours is  either a standard action, or usable in place of one of your iterative attacks. While you do stand a good chance at landing this successfully, stacking it past Shaken is next to impossible in PF and fear effects aren’t very useful in general at this level. So why did I rate it so highly then? Simple, the Shatter Defenses feat - you can full-attack, replace your first strike with this, and all the rest of your strikes will be against a flat-footed foe. Combos well with Vandrae.

Intimidating: You get a bonus to Intimidate. This is untyped and so will stack with other bonuses, like that from the Dragon constellation or Hessant/Sevnoir. You can get your Intimidate check stupidly high this way, which combos well with the trick above.

Titanic Growth (VB): You can grow one size category, for min./EBL… as a full-round action... and it doesn’t stack with other size increasers. You know it’s bad when a 1st-level potion works just as well and even uses fewer actions. Perhaps the only real benefit this has is that it can’t be dispelled.

Unwilling Shield: As the spell. This is much more useful for you than a normal spellcaster since (a) it ignores SR/immunity, (b) the save DC scales as you level, and (c) no material component. In addition, this is at-will, so each twin can use it to spread your incoming damage out to multiple foes. Depending on your DM, you may be able to stack it onto the same foe as well, piling the damage onto foes quickly.

Vestigial Bond: You gain a pseudodragon familiar. It’s physically weak - but very stealthy, a fast flier and telepathic to boot. The 60ft. blindsense is probably the best thing it brings to the table. Just don’t expect it to bail you out in a fight though. Note that it too can use your intimidation and unwilling shield abilities, though you probably don’t want it getting hit. It can also split itself.

Overall rating: Excellent. The twins give your foes good reason to be afraid. You can spend almost the entire fight split, effectively doubling your actions - depending on the other spirits you have bound or any other abilities you possess, you gain a lot of spammability and nova potential, and the fear tricks you can pull off are the icing on the cake. The augment works very well for gish builds by copying both your feats and gear.

Evening Star, Bloody Mist of the Hills (DC 28)

Summary: This cosmic horror

Constellation: Dark Beyond

Ceremony: You bake a mud pie along with some of your blood.

Totems: (1) You sacrifice 1000 gp worth of star metal as a material component; (2) You sacrifice an item that is either personally important to you or worth at least 5gp; (3) You have 16 ranks in Craft (Alchemy.)

Sign (Passive): Trickles of blood stream from your orifices. Ew.

Sign (Active): Worms wriggle under your skin. Yech!

Influence: You just wanna play! Why is everyone dying? (Note: stay far away from anyone the party needs to take prisoner.)

Favored Ally (Likes): Aberrations and Oozes.

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): Animals and Humanoids.

Major Ability: 

Wilting Mist: A mist surrounds you that does 1d4/EBL to every creature within 20ft - a successful save reduces this to 5d4. While more powerful than similar “blasting majors” like Aza’zati, it’s still very weak and the fort save isn’t good either.

Capstone Empowerment: A will save is added if they fail the fort, confusing all the enemies who fail both for 1 round. For starters, 1 round of confusion isn’t nearly enough to be useful, and second, that’s two saves just to get confused. This is blah.

Minor Abilities:

Body of Mist: Gaseous Form as the spell, for EBL+Cha min./day. It’s nice that you don’t need concentration checks to use your abilities, but DR/magic is long past its shelf-life by the time you get this. At least it’s a swift to use.

Horror from Beyond: You can Turn animals and humanoids. Panicked is great (drop items! Random escape path! Cowering!) but it can cause problems too if you’re trying to kill or capture someone out in the open or who can teleport/fly. This is spammable however which is nice, and isn’t actually a fear effect which is nicer. The creature types limit its usefulness however.

Troll Shape (VB): You can use Giant Form II  EBL+Cha rounds/day, but only to become trolls. GF2 gets you Huge forms (15ft. reach), e.g. Mountain Trolls, as well as massive Str/Con/NA bonuses (note: your armor and weapons still function because trolls are humanoid), a bite+claws+rend, regeneration 5, and rock throwing. Not a bad spirit  for a gish Pactmaker at all. Be VERY careful of this ability if you fall under its influence - nothing like being a Huge and mean child to make you want to pull the wings off butterflies. (By butterflies I mean “your party” and by “wings” I mean “arms.”)

Ventriloquism: As the spell but no save. I’m not inclined to rate this higher since its usefulness is very DM-dependent.

Vestigial Bond: You can revive any corpse you touch into a Simulacrum of itself. Unlike other companions, you can continue to make new ones if the old one dies, giving you a host of expendable shock troops. It’s like animate dead, only better (they keep their powers and follow your orders exactly), and free. The biggest downside is that you give up Troll Shape to get it.

Overall rating: Good. Evening Star’s powers are mediocre, though two very shining abilities set it apart. Aside from Fey Baraddu, ES is probably the most powerful melee shapeshifter around. It’s hard to justify the spirit slot due to that terrible major though. ES combos well with Arturius - ramping up the nova damage of your mist and making you a melee titan. Casters will likely want the Simulacrum.

Young Kiros, Author of Sedition (DC 29)

Summary: This revolutionary revenant helps you plant the seeds of dissent in your enemy’s ranks.

Constellation: Thief

Ceremony: You place a shrunken head (where do you even get one?) into a jar of koolaid. (Note - this one is unlikely to fit in your pouch even after being shrunk, so you may have to find one.)

Totems: (1) you’re young (age category-wise) or have 24+ Cha. (2) You use the head of a king in your ritual (unclear if the head is used up - and if you’re creative, would a lion count for this?) (3) At least 7 people watch your pact.

Sign (Passive): You look young and hot. Combine with Jarah and head out on the town!

Sign (Active): Your eyes sparkle.

Influence: You become an idealist.

Favored Ally (Likes): Commoners. Who doesn’t like them?

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): Aristocrats. Boo!

Major Ability: 

Shrink Head: As the ability implies, you curse your foe, reducing their Int, Wis AND Cha by 2d6 permanently (to a min. of 1), will negates. It also loses any head-slot items, which are yours for the grabbing. If this was usable at range or stackable it would be better. This can be combined with Portenta’s Fuse Flesh to render someone catatonic quickly.

Capstone Empowerment: Even on a successful save you damage all 3 mental ability scores 1d4.

Minor Abilities:

Fate’s Whisper: This is quite nasty - you can send someone a message (as sending) and also package a debuff with it - your choice of confusion, contagion, bestow curse, poison or suggestion. This is spammable; each target can only be subject to one of the debuffs per day, but you can Send to people as often as you wish. While deadly for a BBEG, you’ll probably have a slightly harder time becoming familiar with your foes. Combine this with Muse Istago’s scry to gain familiarity and hit people long-distance. The uses here are nigh-limitless; unfortunately, the extremely long casting time of sending makes it very impractical for combat.

Off with Their Head (VB): You can make a ranged touch attack that does 1d10 slashing + 1.5* Cha. On a crit - not a natural 20 - you remove their head, as though hitting with a vorpal weapon. Nasty stuff, but there doesn’t seem to be a way to raise the threat range of spirit powers/supernatural abilities. I’d probably go with the companion instead.

Noble Tongue: Insight bonus to Bluff and Know (nobility.)

Undetectable Presence: You have permanent nondetection, your alignment cannot be discerned, and your thoughts can’t be read. Again, this spirit is tailor-made for a BBEG.

Vestigial Bond: You get an Adept cohort - a human male with the Young template, who is equal to your level. This gets you access to some useful powers, like restoration, remove curse, commune, raise dead, polymorph and true seeing. Note however that, as with all cohorts, the DM decides exactly what you get e.g. stats and feats. You also have to equip him yourself, but don’t fret over this too much - the designer has clarified that any items you give a Vestigial Bond will simply fall to the ground so you can reclaim them after a pact ends. One very good use for this guy is crafting things for you, as he can supply a variety of spells and you can have him assist you for multiple days at a time. Have him pick the feats/spells you’ll need and put him to work. (Pity you get him so late though.)

Overall rating: Okay. Kiros can be almost as good at debuff-spam as Hexus. His companion, despite not sharing his other powers, has a lot of utility, though DM involvement can limit its usefulness ( and the ability to curse or poison someone from across the globe is not bad at all. He’s well suited for an evil boss binder with a sniveling underling.

Mana, Observer of Lost Magic (DC 17)

Summary:

Constellation: Dark Beyond

Ceremony: xyz

Totems: (1) You. (2) You. (3) You.

Sign (Passive): You.

Sign (Active): xyz.

Influence: You.

Favored Ally (Likes): xyz.

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): xyz.

Major Ability: 

Paranoid Chill: ABC.

Capstone Empowerment: XYZ.

Minor Abilities:

Inspire Terror: Description.

Murder Master: Description.

Spatial Bleeding: Description.

Vestigial Bond: None!

Overall rating: Okay. Rationale.

Al’kra, the Operated (DC 17)

Summary:

Constellation: Dark Beyond

Ceremony: xyz

Totems: (1) You. (2) You. (3) You.

Sign (Passive): You.

Sign (Active): xyz.

Influence: You.

Favored Ally (Likes): xyz.

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): xyz.

Major Ability: 

Paranoid Chill: ABC.

Capstone Empowerment: XYZ.

Minor Abilities:

Inspire Terror: Description.

Murder Master: Description.

Spatial Bleeding: Description.

Vestigial Bond: None!

Overall rating: Okay. Rationale.

Al’kra, the Operated (DC 17)

Summary:

Constellation: Dark Beyond

Ceremony: xyz

Totems: (1) You. (2) You. (3) You.

Sign (Passive): You.

Sign (Active): xyz.

Influence: You.

Favored Ally (Likes): xyz.

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): xyz.

Major Ability: 

Paranoid Chill: ABC.

Capstone Empowerment: XYZ.

Minor Abilities:

Inspire Terror: Description.

Murder Master: Description.

Spatial Bleeding: Description.

Vestigial Bond: None!

Overall rating: Okay. Rationale.

Al’kra, the Operated (DC 17)

Summary:

Constellation: Dark Beyond

Ceremony: xyz

Totems: (1) You. (2) You. (3) You.

Sign (Passive): You.

Sign (Active): xyz.

Influence: You.

Favored Ally (Likes): xyz.

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): xyz.

Major Ability: 

Paranoid Chill: ABC.

Capstone Empowerment: XYZ.

Minor Abilities:

Inspire Terror: Description.

Murder Master: Description.

Spatial Bleeding: Description.

Vestigial Bond: None!

Overall rating: Okay. Rationale.

9th level

Daeminthos, Crystal Eye of the Mind (DC 30)

Summary: This psychic pspirit psupplies you with pstellar psecondaries. (Psorry, couldn’t resist.)

Constellation: Mage

Ceremony: You sit in the circle and stare into a crystal.

Totems: (1) you can read minds (magically, racially or otherwise.) (2) You are old or have Know (Arcana) 18 ranks. (3) You sacrifice 2000gp worth of powdered diamond to draw his seal.

Sign (Passive): Your clothes and hair float around you, as though you’re underwater.

Sign (Active): None - quite useful for a psychic.

Influence: You become The Brain (the mouse.)

Favored Ally (Likes):  Constructs

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): Muggle humanoids.

Major Ability: 

Crystal Shard: I really want to like this but it’s very meh for this level. You fling a giant crystal (RTA) at your foe for 5d6 damage, and it then explodes for 10d6 if you hit. If you miss, you get squat. The damage is typed (half-slashing, half-piercing) so DR likely applies, and it doesn’t scale at all. But the truly sad part is that numerically this is one of the stronger blasts you get. The burst portion is reflex half.

Capstone Empowerment: Even if you miss, the crystal explodes anyway, using the missed splash weapon rules. This means you can potentially miss your target entirely and even catch yourself or an ally in the blast. It’s a ranged touch so these outcomes aren’t too likely, but when you’re at 9ths and struggling to keep pace with Meteor Swarm, that doesn’t bode well for you. Selective Ability will help you protect allies and yourself from lacerations.

Minor Abilities:

Hold Monster: As the spell, usable at-will. A useful SoD with a scaling save; anything weak-willed is probably going down.

Psychic Foresight (VB): You get a number of, let’s call them tokens - you can cash one in (swift action) for a +10 insight to any d20 roll you make immediately thereafter. That’s attacks, skills, ability checks, initiative, anything. Each pact gives you Cha mod to use. Update: The designer has clarified that these are cashed in right before the roll they are meant to modify, making them hard to use on saving throws. In addition, they are indeed discharged once you have rolled. Since most saving throws will not be made on your turn, this ruling hurts them a bit but they’re still good for a crucial attack roll, CMB check, skill check or the like.

Psychic Sense: 60’ Blindsense - can’t go wrong with that.

Telepathy: As the monster ability, 5’ per EBL. This means at level 20 you’ll get the full 100 ft.

Vestigial Bond: You gain a Paracletus Aeon familiar. This little guy has some nice abilities, the knockout probably being the 1/week Commune, but it also has a decent array of immunities and resistances, 40 ft. fly, and 3/day calm emotions. For its emotion aura, your best choices are going to be the +2 morale to will saves, or the +2 (untyped!) to all face skill checks. In addition, he shares your Hold Monster, Blindsense and Telepathy powers, and finally since he is an Aeon he communicates via envisaging, which all creatures can (mostly) understand. The biggest downside of course is that you have to give up the amazing Psychic Foresight ability to get it. Personally I would forego him and take the motes.

Overall rating: Good. Daeminthos has a weak major, especially for a 9th-level anything, but his secondaries are all quite good and leave him as a decent contender regardless. Since his major does damage twice, damage boosters (like Arturius) should also apply twice, though expect your DM not to be too happy about that interpretation. Precision damage like Vandrae’s sneak attack will apply to the initial hit with his shard though, so that’s one way to get some more damage out of him.

King Mutaros, Vengeance Unfulfilled (DC 32)

Summary: This sorrowful monarch lets you split land and sky with your grief.

Constellation: Noble

Ceremony: You read the sad king his story.

Totems: (1) You have Know (History) 18 ranks; (2) you draw the seal of Tyrant Cromwell and deface it (this totem keeps you from binding TC); (3) You place the head of an enemy you slew in battle in the seal and wail on it, sacrificing it.

Sign (Passive): The areas over your throat and heart keep bleeding.

Sign (Active): You weep.

Influence: You becomes very sad, but keep it to yourself.

Favored Ally (Likes): Lawful humanoids

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): Chaotic humanoids

Major Ability: 

Spark of Anger: You zap a target within 100 ft. with lightning from the sky, dealing 20d6 electricity damage and stunning them, reflex half and to negate the stun. This is great - long range and many nasty things at this level have poor reflex saves. Stun makes your target drop anything held and lose their Dex to AC too. The damage is icing on the cake and you can actually do 20d6 with this at 17. It doesn’t scale past 20, but it doesn’t really need to since PF has no epic to speak of.

Capstone Empowerment: If you use it outside, it gets maximized, i.e. guaranteed 120 damage or 60 on a successful save. The damage is nice, but again, reflex vs. stun at 100ft. is the real draw here.

Minor Abilities:

Heartbreak: You can create an earthquake, as the spell, except yours can last longer than 1 round (up to ½ EBL + Cha actually, and can be non-consecutive) though you must spend move actions to maintain it. Which is fine, since your standards are still free to wreak havoc with other abilities. This can cause unparalleled amounts of destruction, easily leveling entire cities. More importantly, it screws over every caster who isn’t you, because your abilities don’t need concentration and theirs do.

Legendary Warrior: You gain access to the TWF and Double Slice feats. Honestly if you were planning to use this combat style you’d probably already have them long before now. You can also disarm, sunder and trip without provoking.

Roar of the King (VB): An at-will 30ft. sonic cone that deals 5d6 damage and deafens enemies for 1 round; It’s weak but since it’s a move action you can tack it onto most other abilities (including your lightning strike for 25d6 at level 17, not too shabby.) The save is reflex half here too. Throw this onto your other area blasts to help bolster their damage as well, e.g. Vodavox.

Unstoppable Vengeance: You gain regeneration 5/piercing or bleeding. This is pretty blah - plenty of things do piercing damage at this level - but if you’re up against one of the few things that doesn’t, you can take quite a  bit of punishment. The healing isn’t much to write home about but it does mean you can start just about every fight at full health.

Vestigial Bond: You gain a resolute (lawful) weasel familiar. (Note: the book did not specify what kind; this is errata from the designer.) Weasels aren’t great, but you at least get Alertness, +2 Reflex saves, and it can use your Earthquake and lightning abilities for huge destructive potential. This is 9th-level stuff folks. You can also scry on it at this level, so send it somewhere you can’t reach and check up on it.

Overall rating: Good. Mutaros is capable of untold destruction. The weird TWF thing feels tacked on however, compared to the ability to collapse a cavern or blast a drake out of the sky.

Malebolge Moors, 13 Traitors of Hell (DC 33)

Summary: These disappointing devils are also the hardest spirit to pact with.

Constellation: Fiend (duh)

Ceremony: You solemnly pledge your soul to suck by taking these guys in.

Totems: 

Sign (Passive): You become a continual chew-toy. (It doesn’t hurt.)

Sign (Active): Hellfire surrounds your head.

Influence: You troll your lessers.

Favored Ally (Likes): any Humanoid.

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): Evil Outsiders.

Major Ability: 

Flensing: You deal 10d6 damage (weak, but untyped at least) to a target within 30 ft., as well as 1d6 Cha and Con damage. Fort partial; if they make it, you do 5d6 hp damage and no ability damage. One of the weakest Pactmaker blasts around even with the ability damage to help it; even Cave Mother and Aza’zati at least hit an area. Ugh!

Capstone Empowerment: If you reduce a creature’s Charisma to 0 with this, they become your thrall, as dominate monster. Just one problem - if they have Cha 0 they’re comatose, so it really doesn’t matter if you can give them orders or not. Plus, lots of baddies at this level tend to have very high Cha (e.g. fiends) so this will take quite a while to chip through. They didn’t think this one through very well at all.

Minor Abilities:

Hellfire Grasp: I don’t care if it’s at-will or that half of it is untyped, 5d6 to one target as a standard action is unforgivable at this level. The other half is fire, which needless to say tends to be ineffective this high up.

Infernal Aspect: You gain resist 20 acid and cold, and your weapons count as evil for overcoming DR. The former is good, but most high-level threats resist evil damage, so this is not. You can switch this off by hiding their sign.

Infernal Immunity: You’re immune to fire, poison and pain effects. Decent I guess, though honestly these shouldn’t really be trouble for you at this level.

Word of Torment (VB): A word from you stuns a creature for 1d4 rounds. The cool part is that this is Will Partial - even if they succeed, they’re staggered for 1d4 rounds instead. Pretty sweet. You can only have one target stunned at a time - if you stun someone else, your previous target gets upgraded to staggered for the remainder of the duration. A solid attack.

Vestigial Bond: You gain an imp familiar - their most pertinent abilities for you will be the telepathy and the ability to see through supernatural darkness. In addition, they have at-will detect good, detect magic, fast healing 2, 50ft. fly, their poison sting, commune and augury, plus they can change shape. Note that you should technically get an Imp Consular (BS2 instead of BS1) due to your EBL. Personally I would go with the Word but this is a decent choice.

Overall rating: Poor. Mal has one decent minor but the rest of his abilities are quite weak for a 9th-level spirit. His immunities can protect you from certain attacks but in general, you’ll probably be better off binding other spirits.

PMU2:

Al’kra, the Operated (DC 17)

Summary:

Constellation: Dark Beyond

Ceremony: xyz

Totems: (1) You. (2) You. (3) You.

Sign (Passive): You.

Sign (Active): xyz.

Influence: You.

Favored Ally (Likes): xyz.

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): xyz.

Major Ability: 

Paranoid Chill: ABC.

Capstone Empowerment: XYZ.

Minor Abilities:

Inspire Terror: Description.

Murder Master: Description.

Spatial Bleeding: Description.

Vestigial Bond: None!

Overall rating: Okay. Rationale.

Al’kra, the Operated (DC 17)

Summary:

Constellation: Dark Beyond

Ceremony: xyz

Totems: (1) You. (2) You. (3) You.

Sign (Passive): You.

Sign (Active): xyz.

Influence: You.

Favored Ally (Likes): xyz.

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): xyz.

Major Ability: 

Paranoid Chill: ABC.

Capstone Empowerment: XYZ.

Minor Abilities:

Inspire Terror: Description.

Murder Master: Description.

Spatial Bleeding: Description.

Vestigial Bond: None!

Overall rating: Okay. Rationale.

Al’kra, the Operated (DC 17)

Summary:

Constellation: Dark Beyond

Ceremony: xyz

Totems: (1) You. (2) You. (3) You.

Sign (Passive): You.

Sign (Active): xyz.

Influence: You.

Favored Ally (Likes): xyz.

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): xyz.

Major Ability: 

Paranoid Chill: ABC.

Capstone Empowerment: XYZ.

Minor Abilities:

Inspire Terror: Description.

Murder Master: Description.

Spatial Bleeding: Description.

Vestigial Bond: None!

Overall rating: Okay. Rationale.

Al’kra, the Operated (DC 17)

Summary:

Constellation: Dark Beyond

Ceremony: xyz

Totems: (1) You. (2) You. (3) You.

Sign (Passive): You.

Sign (Active): xyz.

Influence: You.

Favored Ally (Likes): xyz.

Favored Enemy (Dislikes): xyz.

Major Ability: 

Paranoid Chill: ABC.

Capstone Empowerment: XYZ.

Minor Abilities:

Inspire Terror: Description.

Murder Master: Description.

Spatial Bleeding: Description.

Vestigial Bond: None!

Overall rating: Okay. Rationale.


Occult Feats and Binder Secrets

In addition to its wealth of spirits and updated mechanics, Grimoire of Lost Souls brought us a number of feats tailor-made for Pactmakers as well. I also previously mentioned the unique feat-like abilities called Binder Secrets that only true Pactmakers can access - I’ll cover those in this section as well.

Occult Feats

Capstone Binder: Lowers the requirement to hit a Capstone Empowerment from beating the DC by 10+ to beating it by 5+. This is going to be mandatory for almost all Pactmakers - the capstones are that damn good even for gishes.

Constellation Focus: This is like Favored Vestige on steroids - all the spirits of a particular constellation are easier to bind with and get a +1 untyped to their save DCs. Casters definitely want this and gish Pactmakers might as well. Be mindful of celestial politics however because whenever you take this, you are locking yourself out of focusing on the enemy constellations of the one you chose. (Note: NEVER take this for Dark Beyond!)

Expel Spirits: Lets you end pacts early; that spirit won’t return your calls for a full day and the others look unfavorably on you for that time as well. The flexibility can be worth it, especially in an emergency; furthermore, even if you don’t plan on doing that often, you’ll probably want this before 11 as a prereq for Pact Poltergeist.

Extra Constellation Aspect: Most of the constellations only have one good aspect anyway (if that), so don’t waste a feat on this.

Flexible Pactmaking: Yes! This is the easiest way to power up your binding checks, especially on low-Cha Pactmakers. Many campaigns let several days pass between sessions anyway so you many not even have a drawback from this. For every additional day you agree to host a particular spirit, you get an additional +2 on your check, up to a maximum of +10 (120 hours or 5 days.) This can even be beneficial if you know there is a particular spirit you want to hang onto for the course of an adventure and you don’t want to take the time pacting every morning - this feat actually rewards you for that.  And to top it off, you can also form shorter pacts by accepting a penalty, if you know you’ll only want a particular spirit for a fraction of a day - you can reduce your pact by 4 hours for every -2 you accept to your binding check, to a total of -10 (-20 hours, i.e. 4 hours minimum.) This will let you bind a situational spirit in a hurry and get rid of it when the situation is over without all the other spirits giving you the stink-eye. A phenomenal feat and all-but mandatory.

Furious Strike: a mini-smite ability that lets you do extra damage on each attack you make to a spirit’s favored enemy after you designate it with a swift action. Using this counts as expending that spirit’s major ability and the damage scales over your career from +1d6 to +4d6 on each hit. Update: The designer has clarified this ability lasts for 1 round per use - still enough to get a full-attack off. Be sure to use this with spirits that give good FE coverage, such as Ubro’s hatred for undead and Serapith’s for humanoids. Update 2: This can currently be used with granted abilities that do damage to a target (including ones without attack rolls, like King Mutaros’ lightning) but you can only smite one target at a time.

Life-Stealing Strike: Not really worth a feat.

Minor Binding: Useless for Pactmakers. (This is for non-binders.)

Improved Minor Binding: Useless for Pactmakers.

Greater Minor Binding: Useless for Pactmakers.

Opportune Ability: You can use a major ability (standard action or less)  in place of an AoO. This effectively gives you more immediate action abilities you can use. This combos very well with certain spirits, like Jayna or Vandrae.

Rapid Recovery: Honestly most fights will still be over in 4 rounds, so I wouldn’t worry about trying to speed up the cooldowns too much. If you can get it down to 3 rounds though it might be worth a look.

Rapid Reweaving: Useless for Pactmakers. (This is for the Spellweaver Wizard archetype.)

Selective Ability: Casters and support will want this. Gish Pactmakers can safely skip. Note: the designer has suggested that this be applied to minor abilities as well, e.g. Serapith’s Wrath of Daylight - talk to your DM.

Shield Against the Supernatural: Meh.

Spirit Focus: Handy and stacks with Constellation Focus. Casters will want to take this for their favorite spirits. Gishes can benefit too thanks to the binding bonus.

Supernatural Consciousness: Wis is a dump stat for you so don’t bother. Clerics will lose their minds over this however.

Supernatural Slayer: Watch out if enemies have this feat. For you there are better choices.

Suppress Physical Sign: This is campaign-dependent. If signs are going to be a problem (pesky villagers/churches) then this can be a good idea, otherwise I’d rely on good old fashioned illusions, mundane disguises, and forming good pacts.

Unyielding Personality: Some spirits can get you in a lot of trouble on a bad roll, e.g. Evening Star, Aza’zati and Serapith. If you plan on binding troublemakers this can help; personally, I would rely on Flexible Pactmaking, totems, and the Focus feats to just pass the binding check to begin with.

Binder Secrets

Note: you must have Pactmaker levels to take these even if no level requirement is given.

Create Pact Poltergeist: This is phenomenal - Animated Objects with CL = EBL is strong enough, but it also holds one of your spirits for you. Between this and your Vestigial Bond, you’ll have plenty of backup even while adventuring solo. This generally means you can get up to Gargantuan objects. (Note: be VERY CAREFUL which spirit you use for this, as the object is under their influence - a spirit like Evening Star might go on a rampage for instance.)

Disguise Granted Abilities: If hiding your pacts is that big a deal and you’re unsure of your physical skills, just take Suppress Physical Sign.

Empower Major Ability: This is very useful, particularly for weak blasts like Aza’zati’s cone. Yeah the cooldown is twice as long, but you were probably only using one of these per combat anyway. But best of all are the non-blast abilities it powers up, like Arturius’ damage boost, Dagon’s Delay or Cromwell’s buff.

Exorcise Spirit: Very situational. One interesting use is to end a pact with a spirit early without taking the Expel Spirits penalty (Update: the designer has confirmed this use is unintended.) You can however use it on your Pact Poltergeists in case you need to send them back in a hurry - say, before they can squish a nearby orphan.

Immortality: Not bad as far as capstones go. Note however that it doesn’t actually remove your maximum age, so you’ll still die, but at least you’ll die hale and hearty.

Pact Magic Effigy: Like Master Craftsman, except you have a wider array of options e.g. Forge Ring and Craft Rod. Useful if you plan on some UMD-mancy; personally though I’d leave this to the actual casters in the party (if there are any.) This is useful if you’re alone however.

.

Quicken Major Ability: Mandatory for casters. Again, doubling the recharge time isn’t a big deal since it probably wasn’t going to be ready to use again in the same fight anyway.

Sage Lore: If you’re the lore guy, very useful, particularly combined with Xalen or Dagon. This is especially handy in campaigns where pact magic is rare and must be researched/sought.

Scribe Binder Tattoo: If you need to hide your pacting from the party, or you expect to go somewhere that drawing binding seals is impractical (e.g. prison) this can be quite useful. Most importantly, this gives you the ability to rush your check, useful if you need to rebind someone in a hurry.

Sustenance: Useful for survival campaigns but personally I would just pack rations or make puppy-dog eyes at the cleric. The immunity to drowning/suffocation at higher levels is also pretty nice though. Flavorwise it is cool.


Builds, Spirit Combinations and Gear

As with the first Binder, there are a lot of concepts the Pactmaker is able to realize, making them a great “5th-man” to any party. I’m working on a few of these, but I’m also hoping that the community will help me out in devising cool spirit combos. I’m sure there’s tons of potential here that I would otherwise miss. (Under Construction)


Binder Archetypes

In this section I plan to discuss both the archetypes of the Pactmaker itself, and the binding archetypes of the other base classes in Pathfinder. (Under Construction.)

Pactmaker Archetypes:

Archetypes for Other Classes:


Version Log:

12/23/13 - 0.85a: Guide released. Pactmaker, Spirits, and Occult Feats complete. To-do: Builds, archetypes, non-Occult feats and items.

7/8/17 - Grimoire of Lost Souls released.

Feat/Binder Secret questions:

- What is the duration on Furious Strike? Does it last until the pact ends, until the target is dead, for 1 round, for  4-5 rounds, or something else?

- Can Furious Strike damage be added to supernatural abilities, or only to weapon attacks?

- Can you designate multiple enemies for Furious Strike at a time?

- Pact Poltergeist: If you have multiple spirits bound, can you create multiple poltergeists or only one?

- Pact Poltergeist: If you “download” a spirit into an object, does that free a slot on you to pact with a replacement? Is it possible to have 4 spirits in the Pactmaker and one in a poltergeist object?

- Can Exorcise Spirit be used on yourself to end your own pacts without taking the Expel Spirits penalty?

- Can Exorcise Spirit be used on a Pact Poltergeist you’ve created for the same benefit as above?

- If you form a pact by using Scribe Binder Tattoo, do you still need to carry out a spirit’s ceremony, including any items? For example, if I have Vandrae’s seal tattoed on me, do I still need to have and drink spider venom?

PMU2 Questions: