An image of the cover to the Pathfinder Dark Archive sourcebook

Pathfinder Dark Archive Sourcebook Review

September 13, 2022

By: Giaco Furino

 
 

A rogue beast is rumored to stalk the woods outside a small hamlet. Elsewhere, whispers of a secret society dealing in dark magic abounds. And then there's that foolish mage who seems to have made a pact with some terrible power, the river that locals say is caught in a time loop, and the castle where the mirrors are all acting funny... if it feels like there's something strange going on in the world of Pathfinder, you're right! Thanks to the new Pathfinder Dark Archive sourcebook, we're getting a haunting helping of all things paranormal. Pathfinder publisher Paizo sent us a copy of the new book to check out, so read on for our thoughts on this massive tome of the unknown.

What Is Pathfinder Dark Archive?

Pathfinder Dark Archive is a new sourcebook for Pathfinder Second Edition. This 224-page sourcebook contains everything players need to delve deep into the unknown. Positioned as the archives of a secret sect within the Pathfinder Society dedicated to exploring and studying all that's considered "unknown" in the Pathfinder universe, the book is broken up into two main parts: The Archivist's Training Manual and The Stolen Casefiles.

 

The Archivist's Training Manual contains all the rules and statistics needed to run two brand new character classes - the Psychic and the Thaumaturge - which we'll cover in greater detail in a moment. The second section, The Stolen Casefiles, contains eight different "Casefiles" from the Dark Archive, which organizes the rest of the information in the book into different areas of Paranormal Research, including Cryptids, Secret Societies, Temporal Anomalies, Mindscapes, and more.

An image from Pathfinder Dark Archive depicting a mutant unicorn
Beware the mutant unicorn... Pathfinder Dark Archive includes new rules to create Cryptid versions of your favorite Pathfinder beasties

What New Classes Are Included In Pathfinder Dark Archive?

There are two new classes included in Pathfinder Dark Archive - the Psychic and the Thaumaturge. Both offer exciting new ways to build a character in Pathfinder Second Edition, so let's take a closer look at each.

 
 

Pathfinder Dark Archive - The Psychic

Beginning with the Psychic, this is a class that the Pathfinder community has been clamoring for for a long time. As a spellcasting class, the Psychic relies on either Intelligence or Charisma as their core skill, and can customize their approach by choosing how their "subconscious mind" deals with their psychic powers. This adds some truly remarkable flavor to the class, and players can choose from the following: Emotional Acceptance - relying on your emotions to unlock your psychic potential, Gathered Lore - leaning on axioms and lessons to unleash your psychic powers, Precise Discipline - aligning your thoughts brings your power to reality, and Wandering Reverie - where the power of your imagination fuels your psychic potential.

An image from Pathfinder Dark Archive depicting the Psychic
The Psychic is a brand-new class for Pathfinder 2nd Edition

There are also new spells to choose from for Psychic characters, including the 1st level cantrip Telekinetic Rend where your mind "creates a violent axis of motion in a nearby space" dealing bludgeoning or slashing damage. There's also the 5th level cantrip Foresee The Path, where your character catches a glimpse of the future, giving a nearby ally a free reaction to strike against an enemy. That's just scratching the surface, but the flavor imbued in this class - from telekinetic power to a peek into the future - feels really satisfying.

 
 

Pathfinder Dark Archive - The Thaumaturge 

The Thaumaturge is an exciting new class for players who want to create a character dedicated to exploring the unknown. What's most interesting about this new class, and what makes it stand out from other occult-ish classes, is the way it uses implements and other magical tools to aid in all manner of adventuring. The player can, at the start, choose one implement to carry with it, though it may obtain more as they continue to adventure.

An image from Pathfinder Dark Archive depicting the Thaumaturge, a new class for Pathfinder
The Thaumaturge uses special implements to smite their foes and help in their adventuring

There are seven implement types the character can choose from. The Amulet - which provides protection against damage, the Bell - which can ring to distract a spellcaster or enemy attacker, the Chalice - which can be sipped from or drained to offer healing, the Lantern - which shines light and helps make secrets easier to find, the Mirror - which can create an illusory image of the character in a nearby space, Regalia - which gives you an air of authority and makes certain social check easier, and the Tome - which helps you recall forgotten knowledge. Each of these implements grows stronger and offers more unique bonuses as your character gains levels, and it creates in the Thaumaturge a great "jack of all trades" type of character when dealing with the paranormal, secretive, and unknown.

What Character Options Are Included In Pathfinder Dark Archive?

In addition to the two new Pathfinder character classes, there are loads of new character options available for players in Dark Archives, including rules for joining a secret society, new cult spells and rituals, spells that mess with time, and brand new Archetypes. Archetypes in Pathfinder are a way to swap in specific feats at designated levels to help shape and customize your character even further.

An image from Pathfinder Dark Archive depicting a Vessel
You're never alone when you're a Living Vessel!

One of our favorite new Archetypes on display in Pathfinder Dark Archive is the Living Vessel. As with many dark occult pacts, sometimes we make bargains we didn't fully think through. With the Living Vessel, the character becomes a conduit for a dark and mysterious power. Working together with the GM, you can determine what eldritch power you're the vessel for, and gain myriad benefits as you level up. That being said, you need to spend at least an hour each day keeping the entity under control through meditation or some other practice. We love the flavor of Archetypes like this, as it's truly designed to lead to very deep and fulfilling roleplaying moments.

 
 

Can I Use Pathfinder Dark Archive In My DND 5e Campaign?

Though created for Pathfinder Second Edition, there's so much in Dark Archive that can easily be ported over to DND 5th edition. From the flavor of spells and strange trinkets and items you can find, to the adventures - many of which are described in broad enough strokes so as to be easily transferrable - there's a huge amount of information and inspiration lurking within the pages of Dark Archives, and you shouldn't feel limited by the fact that it was created for Pathfinder. With a bit of tweaking and converting, I could imagine a scenario where even elements of the character classes could be ported over.

An image from Pathfinder Dark Archive depicting a cursed human turned into a frog
Well hello there! Look at this little fellow! The Boastful Prince's Scourge is a new curse that can turn a person into a frog!

What Are Our Final Thoughts On Pathfinder Dark Archive?

Pathfinder Dark Archive is as near as you can get to a perfect sourcebook. It's loaded with adventures, plot hooks, character options and concepts, new ideas that stretch the way you think of the game, and so much more. We barely had time in this review to scratch the surface of what's going on in this book, and we're incredibly impressed.

Should I Buy Pathfinder Dark Archive?

If you're a Pathfinder player - or any Tabletop RPG player - looking to find inspiration and new options for your campaign and give it a spooky, occult vibe, this book is crucial. If you're not looking to add those feelings of mystery and mild horror into your campaign, then this sourcebook won't be right for you. But overall, there's so much that works amazingly in this book it's hard to not recommend.

To learn more about Pathfinder Dark Archive, click the link to head over to Paizo!

 
 

The copy of Pathfinder Dark Archive used in the creation of this review was provided by Paizo.

Review Summary

Review Summary

With two new character classes, eight adventures, and new spells, archetypes, curses, and more the new Pathfinder Dark Archive sourcebook is a haunting hit
More Info About This Game

In This Article

Publisher
Paizo Publishing
Release Date
August 01,2009