Overall, Inner Sea Races is a very good and useful book. The first three chapters contain a wealth of information about the various races inhabiting the Inner Sea region, and although some of this information comes from previously published books, much of it has been updated and expanded upon. Importantly, it compiles all this information into one easy-to-reference book. The fourth chapter is the weakest part of the book, but there is still much in the chapter that is useful to people creating characters for the setting. The book is already a frequently referenced source for my own games and is likely to be for many other people’s games as well.
Dirty Tactics Toolbox follows in the vein of its predecessor “Toolbox” books: Ranged Tactics Toolbox and Melee Tactics Toolbox. And much like those two other books, I have the same basic issues with it. While it’s a perfectly functional book, there’s not a lot in it that really stands out and is memorable when compared with the vast amount of other options already available in the game. That said, I do think it edges out the previous two books by a small margin by having a few more things that did catch my attention and a few more instances of nicely integrated world flavour.
The second part of the Giantslayer Adventure Path, The Hill Giant’s Pledge by Larry Wilhelm contains a wide assortment of interesting NPCs (both villains and allies), each with fairly detailed back-stories and motivations. It makes for a wonderfully dynamic adventure that can play out in a multitude of different ways depending on what the PCs do. There are a couple of inconsistencies here and there that don’t work quite so well, but on the whole, it’s a very good continuation of the adventure path.
Like most other map folios, the Iron Gods Poster Map Folio comes with three full-colour poster maps suitable for use with the Iron Gods Adventure Path, but also usable with other campaigns set in Numeria.
There is a map of Numeria itself. As is standard for country maps in these folios, it is done in the style of a map the PCs might actually use in-world and can be freely shown to players. It is beautifully illustrated with pictures of monsters and very setting-appropriate robots. I am also happy to say that, unlike the map of Osirion in the Mummy’s Mask Poster Map Folio, this one has labels of cities, towns, and other major landmarks like Silver Mount. This makes it much more useful in actual play and not just something pretty to look at.
The other two maps detail Starfall, the capital city of Numeria, and Torch, the town Iron Gods begins in. The map of Starfall is rather uniform in colour, (mostly shades of brown) making it less interesting to look at, but it remains useful for gameplay. There is a lot of brown on the map of Torch as well, but the town’s smaller size means more variation and detail can be included, making it not quite so uniform as Starfall.
Overall, the maps are definitely worth it for any campaign set in, or passing through Numeria.
Belkzen, Hold of the Orc Hordes should have been an opportunity to add more depth to orcs in Pathfinder, and to be fair, it makes a couple tokens attempts to do so. However, on the whole, it misses out on the opportunity, instead focusing mostly on describing locations and adventure sites, many of which happen to have orcs in them. It does little to give the orcs any real character beyond violent killers or to differentiate one orc tribe from another. By the end of the book, orcs remain pretty much as faceless as they’ve always been, just fodder waiting for for the PCs to kill them.