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Windjammer's page

Pathfinder Society Member. 199 posts. 2 reviews. No lists. No wishlists.

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A mixed bag, and some dubious choices

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The last Map Folio I bought from Paizo was the one for their first adventure path in 2008. Was I in for a surprise - production quality in terms of: paper used, has gone up a couple of notches. Really impressive.

That apart, there were two let downs.

First, as another reviewer observed, the creases along the folds mean that some of the color on the print has worn off already on arrival. I wish Paizo could look into avoiding that in the future.

Second, both the colour scheme and the actual art cartography (for mountains and especially forests) comes off as a lot poorer than the old maps. Looking at the old Varisia map in that first Map Folio, or even the World Map in the previous Campaign Guide reminded me how much I loved that artwork. Subdued colours, art used for forests and mountains wonderful - and evocative all round. Think back to when Lazaretti did the Greyhawk map panels in Paizo's Dungeon print run - superb art cartography. This, otoh, doesn't come near.

Finally, what felt really cheapening was to place the "Pathfinder Campaign Setting" logo totally oversized on the map top. The setting has a name, so if you're going to put that on the map, use that name (Golarion). Imagine how put off customers would be if previous maps of the Forgotten Realms would come with OVERSIZED logos of "DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS !! 11!!". It just doesn't fit. Looking at a world map, I want to retain a marginal illusion that I'm looking at a map, as the GM, that one of the people in the world could also behold (say, a central agent in Absalom). That illusion is broken because it says "hello! I'm a GAME supplement!!" right at the top.

Well, that last beef was minor compared to the previous two, but I wanted to point it out nonetheless.

Overall: better paper than the 2008 cartography, but a deterioriation in all other quarters. Actually has me reach back to the one which says "Inner Sea Reigon".

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Review from a DM's perspective

**( )( )( )

I had high hopes for this one. Taldor is one of my favourite region write-ups in the Gazetteer, and the artwork looked superb.

On delivery, yes the interior artwork continued to look superb, and strikes me as very much invoking the atmosphere of the grandiose "King's Quest" PC adventure games which I adored in the 90s (tangent: these games have been re-released by AGD Interactive for free). Taldor is King's Quest all over, and to see it brought to D&D tables is something I'm very, very enthusiastic about.

Sadly, though, when you look beyond the illustrations of the Taldor Companion, the writing falls flat. I can't really pin it down but simply didn't find a single city or area write up that I found inspiring. So there's this amazing fey-haunted forest sitting right in the middle of the country, a monastery in the mountains to the east which tries to blend Kelesh and Tuan martial arts, etc etc ... all ideas very well conceived. But when you look at the write-up, you're let down. Or at least, that's what I felt.

So from a DM's perspective, I found it really flat - nothing to edge me into writing adventures for the region. Given that so far this is the only write-up of Taldor we have that's disappointing. I'm not oblivious either to the fact that the guide needs to be player-friendly and spoiler-free. But I'm not looking for outright hooks, I'm looking for inherently inspiring locale write-ups.

From a player's perspective I found the regional traits so-so. I liked the idea behind most of them (very nice character background ideas all over), but the mechanical execution didn't impress me as most of them seemed to be copy-pasted from the freely available Web Enhancement on generic Traits in Pathfinder.

All in all, it's a glossy and beautifully illustrated book (some of the best artwork I've seen in Paizo products, and that's saying a lot as they are amazing when it comes to art), but the writing is sub-par.

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