From Before I Play
- Animal companions are fucking amazing. If you have a class that can have one as an optional feature, that's the thing you want. The dog/wolf can trip, but the smilodon is probably your DPS king (it gets something like 5 attacks and can pounce after level 9ish or so). Another benefit is that if an animal companion dies, it'll respawn after your next rest.
- Mercenaries (the NPC buddies you create from scratch) can act as advisors in the kingmaker stuff, but they don't actually work. You can't 'level up' a branch of your government with them because the proper event doesn't trigger.
- The running a kingdom stuff is pretty bad/boring, don't feel like you're missing something if it starts to annoy you and you just turn it off / cheat it.
- Modding works really well. Bag of Tricks, Craft Magic Items and the Turn-based mod are all really strong recommendations.
- As for classes, a lot of 'prime' builds will do something like a level of Scaled Fist (the Charisma-based monk) to get +CHA to AC for a 1 level dip. If you're not a primary spell-caster and it's not otherwise a bad idea, 2 level of paladin for +CHA to saves stacks well too.
- Flanking works differently from PnP. A person is 'flanked' if two people are in melee with them. This means that a rogue can sneak attack people at range if there's two allies fighting his target in hand-to-hand. That makes ranged sneak attack damage way more viable than your PnP experience would expect.
- You can absolutely miss companions if you don't go to the right places at the right times.
- The standard difficulty isn't actually standard. It's the "Optimal difficulty for people who powergame in PF." Which is great for folks like me, but be aware that enemy stats are boosted even at this level.
- Trip effects are overpowered both against you and against the enemy since unlike in base PF you don't have the option to not stand up and provoke 9 AoOs from the surrounding wolves.
- Valyrie is shit. She can be made slightly passabale by giving her a dip into Kinetisist, one of the archtype gives her a thing which allows her to use her Con as Int to qualify for feats, meaning she can then pick up Combat Expertise and then be a not worthless AC tank. Octavia starts of as crap and can be pushed to be an Arcane Trickter, but Arcane Tricksters are still crap, and micromanaging her is dull. Amiri is kind of meh. Everyone else is decent.
- You don't get a Sorc, Wizard, Druid, Paladin, or Monk companion.
- Your bard can't die, but will leave the party if she would die. This is annoying late game when have access to reliable resurrection and don't want to be stuck missing a party member.
- Your merc alignments don't matter.
- Avoid specializing in exotic weapons. Magic variations are rare and are usually unimpressive.
- Your race is never acknowledged.