Pathfinder's Secrets of Magic Provides a Grimoire Full of Magical Options to Players

Pathfinder's new expansion Secrets of Magic provides an almost overwhelming amount of magical options for players as well as two complex new classes to explore. The new rulebook is perhaps the most technical in nature since Paizo relaunched its signature fantasy roleplaying game back in 2019. While Secrets of Magic does provide a bit of lore at its outset, the bulk of the 256-page book is dedicated to detailed rules and explanations about magic spells, magic items, and new magical character options. To be clear, this is a true expansion of Pathfinder Second Edition that should be well-received by the game's dedicated playerbase.

Secrets of Magic is divvied up into five parts. The opening chapter contains various treatises and explainers on the nature of magic within the world of Golarion, providing players with some new ways on how their characters might interpret the sources and nature of their mystical powers. The second chapter contains the rules for two new classes, both of which should be recognizable to veteran Pathfinder players. The first is the Magus, a combo melee/spellcaster class who channels spells through their weapon to deal combo damage. The second is the Summoner class, who has a powerful bond with an Eidolon and works together with the creature during combat.

Both the Magus and Summoner are somewhat complicated classes to understand. While a Summoner needs to manage their Eidolon during combat encounters, the Magus uses its signature Spellstrike ability to enter into an Arcane Cascade stance that provides them with additional abilities. Since both classes have a relatively limited number of available spell slots to use per day, each class needs to rely on either cantrips or focus spells to augment their abilities or deal damage outside of combat. To be perfectly honest, I struggled with the Magus in Pathfinder First Edition, and while this version is a bit more streamlined (in the way that all classes are "streamlined" Pathfinder 2E), it's still a little hard to conceptualize just by reading the rules. Luckily, Paizo did release a livestream earlier this month that shows both the Magus and Summoner in action.

The largest section of Secrets of Magic is dedicated to adding new spells. There are over 200 spells in Secrets of Magic, which is slightly more than the Advanced Player's Guide. All four spell lists are bolstered with these new spells, although there still is an overall disparity between Divine spells than the other three spell lists. There is also a lengthy section containing nearly 200 new magic items, including some that will be "must-haves" for players.

The last section of Secrets of Magic contains some new magical practices and character options that can be used on a campaign-by-campaign basis. These are a bit more experimental in nature and aren't appropriate for every campaign, but I think it's probably the part of the book that players will be most excited to read. From casting Cathartic Magic that's impacted by a character's emotional state to Soulforged Armaments that let players bind weapons and armor to their souls, there are a lot of cool ideas to play around with. Honestly, I could see some of these mechanics get lengthier sets of rules in future Pathfinder books if the player demand is there.

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It's been over a year since players received a Pathfinder 2E expansion of this scale, and I think it will help spark a lot of new campaigns and character builds. While Secrets of Magic is hardly a book for Pathfinder beginners, it does help grow the new edition of the game and provides even more choices to help players create their own specialized character.

Secrets of Magic is available now at hobby stores and through online retailers.