Perhaps no environment is more iconic, more varied, and more fearsome than the dungeon, and when you delve into the perilous, monster-infested ruins of ages lost, you need all the help you can get! Intrepid explorers in search of the ultimate tomb raider’s boon need look no further than Pathfinder Player Companion: Dungeoneer’s Handbook! Packed with useful tips, handy tricks, and new rules and options, this volume is a must-have for any adventurer looking to brave the world’s most infamous dungeons.
Dungeoneer’s Handbook presents player-focused, in-depth discussion of dungeons, their dangers, and ways to survive your exploration—whether it's your first time or your twentieth. Each Pathfinder Player Companion includes new options and tools for every Pathfinder RPG player. Inside this book, you’ll find:
Informative and inspiring articles on iconic dungeon elements and tips on how to survive the deadly traps, monstrous inhabitants, and cursed treasures you’ll undoubtedly encounter.
New archetypes perfect for characters that frequently find themselves deep underground or in forgotten catacombs, including the trap breaker alchemist, terra-cotta monk, and dungeon rover ranger.
New spells and magic items for every dungeon situation.
Rules for dungeon guides—informative (but oft-misleading) tomes that can be either a boon or a curse for those aimlessly wandering dungeon halls.
Archetypes and rules for hirelings who can take care of your estate and other mundane matters while you’re away on your latest excursion.
New dungeon-related feats, traits, dungeoneering aides, alchemical equipment, and more!
Each monthly 32-page Pathfinder Player Companion contains several player-focused articles exploring the volume’s theme as well as short articles with innovative new rules for all types of characters, as well as traits to better anchor the player to the campaign.
OK, this is a fine & useful guidebook for Pathfinder players. It has lots of crunchy fluff and fluffy crunch. Six Archetypes, eight feats, four traits, and over two dozen items. Section on Dungeon guids (books and maps), famous dungeons, traps, etc.
They have one piece of advice which can be disastrously wrong: The advice that the main route into a chamber is usually not trapped, as it’s a route that would have to be taken many times a day. This is true if we’re talking realistic, but few dungeons are designed in a realistic fashion.
The "Ostentation Display" feat should be a rule, not a feat. You'd be crazy to waste a feat on this.
So, trying this again as my last review disappeared when I tried to submit it.
Quickie Review: Dungeoneer's Handbook is a lesson in mediocrity from a company that tends to do better. To be fair, their Player's Companion product line does tend to be a mixed bag when it comes to quality as it seems to be where Paizo places some of their newer more experimental writers. That said, there are a few gems in this product, so if you choose to buy it, you may want to stick to the PDF.
In Depth Review:
There were only a couple things that really stood out as great for me. "The Torchbearer" was a neat concept. A weaker Leadership feat that eventually grows up into the Leadership feat at 8th level. The companion is limited in what class they can be but has access to some neat archetypes provided in the book. While "Blazing Torchbearer" and "Sapper" are questionable to the point of being nigh useless, the other's are kind of, well, neat for a hireling to have. The ranger archetype "The Groom" protects the horses and can scout out towns to help PC's find where to get that spell or service they need. The Ranger archetype "Dungeon Rover" is basically, well, a Dungeon oriented Ranger, and a pretty solid one at that. The "Terra-Cotta Monk" is pretty solid as well, with the "Stone Grip" ability invoking some rather neat mental images of a monk crawling along the ceiling towards it's unaware target. The "Trap Breaker" alchemist pretty much does what the name implies and has the added perk of being able to convert bombs into land mines, all in exchange for the poison abilities which seems to be the perfect trade off.
The traits on the inside of the back cover are neat. Two give more unusual PC's some nice fluff while providing a fairly solid benefit. Destine For Greatness makes the use of Kits far more appealing than they might otherwise be. Lost Role Model, well, that depends on how the key feature is used. A couple of other feats stood out as neat, such as "Close Call", "Cursed Item Detection" and "Dampen Presence", they actually struck me as being the only real worthwhile feats in the book.
There's a lot of Meh in here. After all, this is a Dungeoneer's Guide, which means unless you're new to the hobby, it's been done, about as much as 'hero point' rules, and this book is merely Paizo's take on it. Or at least feels that way. The advise is solid, but standard, with Golarion specific dungeons mentioned in blurbs giving the book a more campaign specific feel. Feats like "Coaxing Spell" and "Arcane Trap Suppressor" were alright, but offset by either a high spell level cost or a rather situational effect. The equipment was a mixed bag that basically evens out on the 'worth-it' and 'worthless' side of things.
Most notable here, belongs to the concept of Dungeon Guides. These are journals, stories, text books, on specific dungeons that, if utilized properly, give you an edge on certain skills. It's an interesting concept, but an awkward execution. The price for the sample tomes are ridiculous, the mechanics behind it are iffy, but I could see them being very neat as a plot device far superior to the classic trope of the map found in the treasure hoard or on the dead pirates belt.
"Tactical Re-positioning" seemed to do something that one could easily argue the Re-positioning Maneuver should do already. The Feat "Ostentatious Display" struck me as being useless, pointless, needlessly convoluted and a poor concept altogether. Basically you get a +1 bonus to a social skill based on what type of bling you have and what magic item slot it takes up. To give you an example, per the feat, you might get a +1 intimidation bonus for a Diamond Studded Belt, but a necklace of Skulls and Bloody Ears would give you a +1 Diplomacy bonus. Oh, and in order to benefit from it, you have to give up a magic item slot, because the bonus doesn't apply to gaudy magic items. Altogether, about as worthless as a feat can be, without taking 'Prone Shooter' from "Ultimate Combat".
The spells they offered were, well, almost insulting. There was one 4th level spell that did damage equivalent to a fireball to 1 creature, but you could have it affect more (up to a 25ft square) at the cost of damage. There was the "Create Holds" spell, which is neat in concept, but should probably be 2nd level seeing as "Spider Climb, Communal" pretty much accomplishes more, better, and at 3rd level. "Discern Value" seems like a needlessly convoluted, needlessly high level spell to replace using appraise (and poorly). "Determine Depth" is so situational is should probably be level 1 instead of 2. "Nature's Ravages" is like the reverse of "Gentle Repose" but it's a 4 Cleric/3 Witch for some strange reason.
All in all, I give this a 2.5, some neat stuff, but an ultimately forgettable product. As 2.5 isn't an option, I'm listing it as 2, because mediocrity is a sin in and of itself, or maybe I'm just a jerk.
A lot of the player material is very focused and exclusive, which in my mind is a bad thing. However, in this case the book does come out and say early on that it is mostly for Rangers, Rogues, and Alchemists. It has minima material for everyone else, but like I said, to be fair, the book does mention that.
The artwork is amazing, and moreso than most other books, it really seems to be designed to illistrate what the book is talking about rather than just being placed there as a halfway related nice picture.
The material is a bit monotinous, and is really questionable as a "Players Guide". A great deal of the material is either strictly for DM's/GM's, or intended for both, but more so on the GM side who has the option to use it than for player's who may never really even have the chance, (from an out-of-character point of view).
A few kits are included, a few spells, and a few feats, but they don't really come across as must haves, and in some spell cases I really wonder why they are that high level. For example, Nature's Ravages is a 4th level Cleric, 3rd Level Witch spell that essentually does the opposite of Gentle Repose, causing things to age by 1 day per 2 CL, (max of 10 days). Seems like a good 0 level spell, (unless I'm missing something), a weaker 1st level spell, but not at all worthy of 3rd or 4th level slots. Create Holds alows you to make basically a ladder on a solid rock for 1/level, and is a 4th level Druid/Wizard, 3 level Ranger spell. Stone Shape is a 3rd level Cleric/Druid, 4th level Wizard spell that allows some really similar thing, but has lot of other uses. Shouldn't Ceate Holds then be a level or 2 lower for being less useful in general, and not as open to other classes? It itself kind of seems like at best 1st level spell material.
The good. It gives a lot of good, useful ideas and suggestions for running dungeons, particularly for a DM that likes to use a lot of flavor and create their own material. It is not really setting specific. The art is really good, including some things that can be used as either hand outs or used as examples to create your own hand outs. Guidlines on making "traps" that are not traps, and just a lot of little things like that. The new NPC/hireling material is cool, but see below. I do not remember seeing any Roles, so that is amazing.
The Bad. One thing I don't like about a lot of Paizo's books about topics is that they take some of the most obvious choices in related to the subject and continue to elevate those rather than try to give options for everyone. It creates a divide rather than allowing for more inclusive games. It boosts Alchemists, Rangers, Rogues (and Wizards I guess), but doesn't offer any ways for other classes to really fit into a campaign that is dungeon exploration/survival heavy. Nothing really for the Cavalier, Cleric/Oracle, Fighter, Paladin, Monk, Sorcerer, etc. . . that brings them in line for the playstyle the book is about. Normally this would net around a 1 or 2 stars for the review, but as I've mentioned a few times, the book does say this up front, so to be fair, what it does say it will bring it does bring. The new hirelings material is very cool, but it seems that like with the Knights book, Leadership and being able to have cohorts and hirelings is usually either banned outright or otherwise not allowed, both in home games and in PFS. Needs to be more player focused, though really to be fair this probably should have been in a more DM centric line with a small player's section.
All in all, for what it is and says it does, it's a pretty good book. If your looking either for ideas to use in building a dungeon or to be able to top of your very dungeon-explory Alchemist, Ranger, or Rogue, it's probably a good buy. If you not doing those things, you should probably skip it, though the PDF is is chap enough that it's hard to complain.
This is one of those books that may influence how you play your character in a particular situation (in a dungeon, obviously) as much as provide character building options (feats, archetypes). I enjoyed reading it, which is not always true of books with lots of useful options. I also liked the new rules for dungeon guides and torchbearer hirelings.
You can read a more extensive review on my blog Delver's Diary, where I also consider the book from the perspective of Pathfinder Society play.