Pathfinder Player Companion: Knights of the Inner Sea (PFRPG) (based on
Paizo Publishing, LLC
Unleash righteous fury and vanquish those who oppose your noble call to arms! Join the forces of good or evil in your pursuit to spread the word of your liege, or dedicate yourself to a religious or personal code of knightly conduct. Whether you’re a muscle-bound weapon of faith bedecked in steel plate or a spellcaster devoted to the god of magic, this volume offers countless options to those who walk the elite path of knighthood.
Knights of the Inner Sea presents a player-focused, in-depth discussion of what it means to be a knight on the world of Golarion, where every day is a trial against forces that seek to enslave or obliterate humanity, and it’s up to a stalwart few to fight back against the elements of corruption for the betterment of all. Every Pathfinder Player Companion includes new options and tools for every Pathfinder RPG player.
Inside this book, you’ll find:
An in-depth analysis of the various kinds of knights that roam the Inner Sea region, and roles that help define exactly what these diverse orders stand for.
New spells, magic items, character options, and traits to help knightly adventurers distinguish themselves as glorious champions of their causes.
A detailed dissection of a knight’s armaments and her horse’s barding, as well as an exploration of heraldry and its function throughout the Inner Sea.
New rules for mounts both monstrous and bestial, including descriptions and traits for some of the Inner Sea’s most prominent breeds.
Rules for acquiring a loyal squire to aid a knight in her noble endeavors, including new archetypes to further specialize these stalwart sidekicks.
This Pathfinder Player Companion is intended for use with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, but can easily be incorporated into any fantasy world.
Written by Dylan Birtolo, Gareth Hanrahan, Steve Kenson,
Patrick Renie, Tork Shaw, and Jerome Virnich.
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.
Note: Dylan Birtolo's name was inadvertently left off the credits page. Sorry about that, Dylan!
A fine little booklet. This one covers the primary Knightly orders of the Inner Sea, their organization, and motivations. Worth is alone for the wonderful 2 page art spread of the Cavalier iconic with a discection of all this gear and horse. Seriously, just a handy booklet. The info on the squire rules is great and the spells in the book are USEFUL! My only serious gripe is a lot of the Knightly orders this book covers are in the Inner Sea Guide and Paths of Prestige. Pick those up to get the full use out of this book.
When I first learned that Paizo was working on a book about knights in the Inner Sea region, I was thrilled beyond belief. As a fan of the Dragonlance setting, I've been using knights in my games pretty much since my first game as a GM and I still do, fascinated as I am by the notion of knightly orders and the wide variety of motivations that drive these knightly orders and the individual knights within them to excel.
Fast forward a few months and I've finally had a chance to actually read Knights of the Inner Sea. I'm pleased with the result and I'll tell you why.
The book follows the new format introduced in Varisia: Birthplace of Legends. 32 pages jam packed with information to help gamers bring the subjects contained in the book to the gaming table. Each topic in the book is given 1 page (For Your Character, Rules Index, Knights and Religion, Knights and Race) or 2 pages (Knights Overview, Eagle Knights, Hellknights, Knights of Ozem, Mendevian Crusaders, Other Knightly Orders, Anatomy of the Knight, Squires, Mounts, Cavalier Orders, Knightly Codes and Traits, The Spells of Serren, Magic Items), providing a fast and furious pace to the information given.
This, of course, requires that the text is clear and well written, and I feel that's the case in Knights of the Inner Sea. The text is easy to understand and written in a way that certainly inspired me. I also like that each turn of the page presents a new topic relevant to knighthoods in the Inner Sea. In a product as short as the books in the Player Companion line are, you can't afford to spend too much time dwelling on a single topic.
Every inch of the book has been utilized, including the inside covers. The front inside cover provides an overview of 4 knightly heritages, showcasing the differences within knightly heritages from various regions in the Inner Sea. This overview is just that. It's not a detailed essay on the history and personalities of each house, but rather a few short nuggets of information to inspire players and GMs alike to explore the notion of noble houses and knighthood in their own games. This, I think, is what Paizo does best. They provide us gamers with nuggets that allow us to add depth to our games. The back inside cover is all about mounts, focusing on the mundane sort such as horses and hounds. Once again, the information is precise, providing a brief description, a reference to a relevant stat block and book, and a game mechanic associated with the mount.
Following the trend started by Varisia: Birthplace of Legends, Knights of the Inner Sea is all about making things easy for the players. From the sidebar Questions to Ask Your GM through the Rules Index to the centerfold providing a visual breakdown of a knight's armor and equipment (as well as that of his mount), Knights of the Inner Sea does its utmost to ensure that any player contemplating playing a knight has as much information as he needs to get started. I really like that. As a veteran player, I like to think I know my way around the game, but even so, the book makes my life much easier when it comes to knightly characters. For instance, before Knights of the Inner Sea, I didn't know the name of every single component of a typical knight's arms and armor. I do now. The Questions to Ask Your GM segment is just common sense. Don't create a mounted knight if your GM intends to run an all-Darklands campaign for your group, for instance.
The greatest thing about the layout in the new format is that it no longer follows a set formular with specific sections that have to be in each book (such as Social, Faith, etc.). The content and the way it's laid out is adjusted to the needs of the subject matter. Of course you'll still see certain things in each installment going forward, such as the centerfold, but this seems far less forced than was the case with the old layout for the Pathfinder Player Companion Line.
If you're looking for obscure knightly orders or even detailed essays on the major knightly orders of the setting, this is not the book for you. There are two reasons for this. First, this book isn't big enough for that kind of thing, considering the large topic the book tries to cover. Second, Paizo's strength when it comes to fluff lies in whetting the appetite. In planting countless sparks with which to ignite the creative fire.
So what can you expect from the fluff in this book? Knights of the Inner Sea discusses what it means to be a knight in the Inner Sea region, covering such topics as types of knights, how religion affects a knight, and racial differences. In addition, seven specific knightly orders are presented. All of this with enough detail to help a player create a knightly character. So somewhat basic, well-written information. If you're a living Golarion encyclopedia the amount of new fluff is limited but, considering the purpose of the book, that's not a bad thing.
My personal favorite part of the fluff in the book is the centerfold. I've mentioned this before but it deserves a second mention. The Anatomy of the Knight section is brilliant and it's something I'll be referencing a lot both as a player and as a GM.
There are several interesting crunchy parts to this book. We get feats, traits, cavalier orders, spells, and magic items. But while these are, for the most part, cool and tailormade for knightly characters, I want to focus on roles, squires, and mounts.
Roles are a new feature that was premiered in Varisia: Birthplace of Legends. Some of you may not have access to that book so here's a brief description of what a role is. Basically, it's advice. Want to play a Gallowspire Warden (Knights of Ozem specializing in the patrolling of the Hungry Mountains and the prison of the Whispering Tyrant)? The Gallowspire Warden role lists options that help you build a fitting concept. Classes, archetypes, skill, feats, prestige classes, and equipment are suggested and the persona typical to Gallowspire Wardens is described.
Roles are clearly meant for new players and veteran players who don't have the time and/or the desire to go through the many books published for Pathfinder (the game AND the setting). As such, it's an invaluable resource, certainly for new players for whom the prospect of browsing through thousands of pages just to find the right game mechanics can be a daunting one.
The disadvantage, I think, that roles have is that, for a large portion of the player base, myself included, they fill a lot of real estate. Space that many will think could have been put to much better use either fleshing out some more fluff or presenting more new game mechanics. In the case of Knights of the Inner Sea, 4 pages have been dedicated to advice on how to build specific character concepts. I don't see myself using roles to create my characters and as such, I would have prefered something else. I realize, though, that I'm far from the only customer Paizo has to take into consideration, and roles serve their purpose quite well, I think.
Squires are handled via a feat. It's basically a minor version of the Leadership feat that allows you to gain a single cohort. When you reach seventh level, the Squire feat upgrades to Leadership. Pretty cool even if the prerequisite level seems a bit off. The really cool thing, though, is the addition of squire-specific archetypes that come along with the feat. While the archetypes can certainly be taken by any character of might qualify for them, they're intended to be taken by squires. The archetypes are Combat Healer Squire (paladin), Gunner Squire (gunslinger), Herald Squire (cavalier), and Weapon Bearer Squire (fighter). All in all a fun way of handling squires in the game.
Any self-respecting knight rides into battle on a war-trained steed and Knights of the Inner Sea has that aspect covered quite well, I think. The book divides mounts into two categories - Animal Mounts and Monstrous Mounts. We'll get to the animal mounts in a bit but first let's discuss the monstrous mounts. 13 monstrous mounts are featured in the book (blink dog, dragon horse, young dragon, dragonne, giant owl, griffon, hell hound, kirin, pegasus, shadow mastiff, sleipnir, unicorn, and worg). Although no new game mechanics dealing with monstrous mounts are introduced, the section does a nice job of describing how each monstrous mount might serve a knight. In addition, a page reference is given, allowing the reader to quickly look up the monster in the relevant book, and a Cohort Level is given. Very useful to any player contemplating getting a monstrous mount.
Animal mounts are featured on the inside back cover of the book. In all, 5 horses (chiadmar, Dort charger, fell pony, Lastwall jasper, and Taldor jennet) and 3 non-horse mounts (Chernasado riding elk, Erutaki husky, and Qadiran dromedary) are listed on the page. Each entry contains a short description, a page reference, and a trait. Not only do we get a bunch of Golarion-specific mounts to add some flavor to our knights (as opposed to the standard Core Rulebook heavy or light horse), but each mount comes with a trait. While this trait counts against a character's total traits, whenever you switch to a new type of mount (say, from Dort charger to Lastwall jasper), you also switch traits, losing the trait you with before and gaining the trait associated with the new type of mount. I absolutely love this, as it adds a nice bit of crunch to campaigns and adventures in which mounts make sense.
So how does this 32-page book on knights handle itself? Quite well as it turns out. The book's purpose is to provide players with enough material for them to be able to play knightly characters. It does that perfectly, I think. Knights of the Inner Sea provides details on some of the most popular knightly orders on Golarion, it contains rules for mounts and squires, it provides sample knightly heritages, it breaks down the importance of religion and how the different races approach the concept of knighthood, it visually describes a knight's arms and armor as well as that of his mount, it provides magic equipment and spells, it provides plenty of suggestions through roles, and overall it does so in a well-written and inspiring manner. If you expect the book to go deeper, providing material on more obscure knightly orders or game mechanics to really take your knight to the next level, you'll be disappointed. But if you expect this book to equip you with enough fluff and crunch to create that archetypical knight, this book has you covered.
My only two sour grapes are roles and some of the artwork. While roles work very well for what they're supposed to do, for me personally and the kind of gamer I am, its usefulness will be limited and it'll take up a lot of real estate that I might have wanted spent differently. Again, if you're new to Pathfinder or you're one of the MANY gamers who don't think it's particularly fun to browse through book after book after book to find the fitting game mechanics, roles will be a boon. As such, it's not something that'll detract from my overall impression of the book. Roles may not be useful to me personally but for a lot of gamers, they certainly will, and they work well.
The majority of the artwork in this book is quite decent. However, there are three pieces that did not sit well with me, specifically the artwork for the Hellknight, the Knight of Ozem, and the Mendevian Crusader. Artwork is a very subjective part of any roleplaying supplement, and for me those pieces did not do a good job at all visually describing typical representatives of the three orders. Other than those three pieces, the artwork in the book worked well enough, particularly the centerfold and the three panoramic pieces.
All in all, a very useful book that should help a lot of players realize their knightly character concepts. It's certainly inspired me.
Honestly the layout of the book took me back in time, I felt I was reading a Dragon Magazine all over again. I actually had to get used to the layout, I'm so used to being assulted by lengthy blocks of text.
So 5 out of 5 there.
My group enjoys playing knightly roles so this will be a big hit with them, I know it was for me.
Sure I would have loved further listings of noble houses and less on some of the revised material, like cut the Eagle Knight & revise the Lion Blade etc. But outside of that it offered a lot of fun info to play a knightly character, and sadly the Cavalier never gets the attention it's due. One of my favorite classes if you couldn't tell.
So all you hard working fellows & ladies at Paizo, keep up the great work!
After the "Blood of" books I found this one quite a disappointment. Most of the content just feels like filler and fluff. If you are looking for crunchy content for a Society Play character I would not recommend this Companion.
Pros: New Cavalier orders, a couple interesting traits, some cool artwork, a few cool items.
Cons: Archetypes are what I would consider to by "NPC/Cohort" focused. A method of acquiring a one of the non-animal companion mounts other than leadership would be nice. A lot of the book is "how to build this flavor of knight" without offering any new feats or archetypes.
*I wouldn't consider any of the content "bad", even the things listed in the "Cons" is a bit interesting, I just found it lacking in new content.
Perhaps it was a case of expectations not matching.
I expected this to go into more fluff and history for the primary knightly orders in the book, namely the ones that are pan-national. I also expected a plethora of new orders that had not been covered in other places.
Instead, we get a possible illustration of a typical knight of an order (does the one order REALLY dress all in gold mail?!?), some suggested archetypes for suggested classes for these orders...and that was really all of substance.
Size? Major holdings? Primary NPC's of note? Average levels? Typical Knightly party?
None of that. The NPC write ups of the 4 paladin Knights of Ozem in Carrion Crown were more informative, in their own way.
Taldor, which could have been a place to throw any kind of whimsical knightly order you could come up with, was instead treated to several noble families of knights of some fame...and that was it.
The closest thing to a swashbuckling order was the Steel Falcons, and they like to use greatswords.
Too, there was absolutely NO treatment of the various Orders available to cavaliers, and how they react with the campaign world, and how they cross the lines of Knightly Orders, and implications thereof.
The best part of the book was the breakdown on armor and clothing. Very nice illos there showing the various parts of knightly attire.
I only got the PDF, not the printed, and I'm glad I saved the money. As a reference guide, there's basically very little here, and there is only a little expansion of the game's lore (mostly the Taldan families).