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Bag of Devouring

Gorbacz's page

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber. Pathfinder Society Member. 12,456 posts (12,587 including aliases). 87 reviews. No lists. 1 wishlist. 1 Pathfinder Society character. 10 aliases.



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That's how you do Player Companions and get the reviewer drunk, too!

*****

My oh my. Have we gone a looong way since Blood of the Elements.

This is a Player Companion which focuses on precisely 7 furry (bite me) races of Golarion. Okay, Gripplis aren't furry. OKAY, NEITHER ARE THE SNAKE GUYS. LIKE I SAID, BITE ME.

This could have been a disasterpiece, with each race getting 2 pages of lore on the race, 1 page of lore on its homeland, 3 racial traits, 2 feats and 1 spell.

It isn't.

See, somebody, and by "somebody" I mean the indomitable Alex Augunas, the intrepid John Compton and the ever incredible Crystal Frasier *waves The Crystal Fanclub Banner furiously*, working under developing gaze of the invincible Mark Moreland, figured out that you can tell a story using mechanics. Because when you write an archetype that's called "Prowler at the World's End" or a feat that's called Lovable Scoundrel, you're conveying lore through crunch. Which is kind of a smart thing to do if you have just 32 pages AND need to set aside some space for supergeil af artwork like the kitsune on pages 13 and 14.

Also, it doesn't hurt that the crunch is excellent. The Warp psychic discipline? I mean, this wants me to built a time machine and sent the people behind the recent Player Companions back in time and have them re-write some of the earlier books. Yes, Blood of the Elements and Blood of the This Book Isn't Really About Dhampirs. I am looking at you.

If there is any issue with this book it's the cover. I mean, it's not bad, but it's impossible to look at it while sober/not stoned. I've had to empty a vodka bottle to get this review done, which might or might not have some impact on coherency and relevance of my thought process. Bite me. It's a great book, go buy it.


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Fantastic collection of NPCs, just not Golarione-y enough

****( )

This is the third hardcover 'Codex' book from Paizo. The NPC Codex was pretty much a long list of core class NPCs. While statblocks are always useful, there was little in the way of new content, and the book was setting-agnostic.

Then came the Monster Codex. Things got better there, with some new material, although most of it was limited to monsters in question. Again, setting-agnostic.

And here is the Villain Codex, presenting no less than 20 organisations, each with several villainous NPCs. Good news: there's much more rules content here! You get archetypes, feats, spells and items which you can use with more than just the provided NPCs. Also, the provided NPCs are not just core classes, you'll find material from all Paizo hardcovers, including Occult Adventures and Ultimate Intrigue.

So, why four stars? It's still setting agnostic. If I want to integrate those into Golarion, I need to do extra work. I don't like doing extra work for my $. I respect Paizo's desire to keep the core hardcover line separated from Golarion but at this point it's becoming an awkward arrangement.

Furthermore, Paizo hardcovers still ignore the material from the Player Companion line. Recently, the Companions got massively better, with some bright diamonds such as Weapon Masters' Handbook, Haunted Heroes Handbook or Divine Anthology. Despite being all open content, Paizo refuses to draw from their own softcover books in the core line, likely out of fear of irritating people who don't know that Internet exist and continue to rely purely on print material. I'd really love to see some cool stuff from Player Companions appear in hardcover books - perhaps Paizo will reconsider their policy at some point.


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Sweet Blasphemy, Sand Mantas galore! Talk about your prehistoric pigeons.

*****

This book allows me to build D, as in Vampire Hunter D. This alone makes it worth the asking price, despite the fact that Paizo once again missed the opportunity to print a Paladin of Jesus Christ archetype. Oh well, maybe they'll fit him in the upcoming Blood of Beasts.


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One of better PGs out there

*****

This PG does an excellent job of helping players ease into the opening of the AP, which is by no means typical for a D&D campaign. I like how it foreshadows things without spoiling them and ensures that players are mentally prepared for the first adventure. It also provides the usual tips for character creation, traits and a brief outline of Ustalav and the nearby surroundings. I've perhaps wished that the Ustalav outline was a little longer, but then again this PG is short and sweet at 12 pages, which seems about right.


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Excellent GM Resource, Player powerup book? Not that much.

****( )

Let's get one thing right off the bat - this is primarily a book for GMs. While there are the usual archetypes, feats and spells, the player-oriented content is in minority, as evidenced by many archetypes being "Evil-only" and several feats being SLA power-ups which are quite obviously meant to be handed out to monsters in order to swap out Skill Focus (basket-weaving) and give the cocky PCs a nasty surprise.

So, as a GM resource, this book is a fantastic grab bag of various things which should help you run not only horror-themed games, but any game where you want to surprise and unnerve your table. My personal faves are expanded rules for fear, madness, curses, diseases and environmental hazards, as well as several absolutely cool templates for enhancing monsters. A waxwork gargoyle? Sure. A unkillable, unstoppable hilbilly ogre? Yup. Xenomorphs? Check. Wait, xenomorphs?

Of course, there are the usual collections of feats, spells, items etc etc. Splatbooks are what splatbooks must be.

Perhaps I'd enjoy some more advice on scaring the crap out of super-powered D&D PCs, but then again, a skilful GM will terrorize even a level 20 party. Remember kids, scare the player, not his GodWizard superhero. Always target the weakest link! Find out whom he cheats on with his wife, get her credit history, bribe the witnesses... Oh, we're talking RPG games, not Shark Lawyering 101? Sorry!

Just set your expectations straight for this one. If you are a GM? Pick it up right away, 5/5 stars, would bang. If you are a player? Wait until the open content is out there and see for yourself. 3/5 stars, would call again. Average - 4/5 and hence the score.


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