One only two books you require to jump in and play Pathfinder, it is the essential meat in the gaming stew. As important and the core rulebook is, it is nothing with out this work.
Expanded and tweaked off the OGL 3.x material, its cleaner, better organized and tweaked for the Pathfinder rules. Every hero needs a foe, every damsel in distress needs a captor, and every GM needs a source of badies to keep the group on their toes. You will find it all here, between these pages is years of destruction and mayhem.
No matter if you playing Pathfinders own setting, one of your own design and creation, or another publishers material, this is the must have companion to your CRB.
Long long time ago in a gaming galaxy far far away we all marveled at the new Advanced Dungeons and Dragons rule set. This new rule set not revolutionized the game table, but entered in a new era of gaming like we never thought to see again....
Pathfinder is everything that was wrong or needed work with the D20 3.x rule set. It has heralded in a new revolution at the game table. RPG gaming is not the type of endeavor that sees many ground breaking events, but I have seen two in my lifetime.
The switch to Pathfinder has also revitalized my player group.
There is only one reason not to be playing Pathfinder, because your new to RPG gaming, so welcome to the new standard from which all products are measured. With this one book and a Bestiary, you can begin to forge new worlds, seek out new adventures, and boldly go where no one has explored before.
Taken as a whole its merely an OK book, it really does not add much new. The 10 "new" classes are simply hybrids, kind of multiclass version of their two parent classes. It even lists the two parent classes. So it feels like a bit of a rehash as opposed to say the Advanced Players Guide which is still in my opinion the bar to all add-on books are held. The feats are rather lack luster, but again they are for the most part designed for the "new" classes, the added archetypes are weak at best, really feels like they were added to pad the 250 page count, not because they are cool or needed. The spells are as lack luster, though some neat ones, again we are really running out of how many versions of the same effect we can possibly make while maintaining balance. However much of the work here was needed as we have new class spell lists.
I personally think, if Paizo wants to keep the PF revenue flowing, it is time for a new setting or expand the current Golarion world, not more class/race rehashed rules and source material. One revenue stream that has never been done, is a set of printed sticky add-ons that we can buy and add to previous printing material bringing it up to date like the PDFs (keeping purchsed PDFs up to date? Stellar work Paizo!). So those of us with 1st printing CRBs can buy and stick these on to pages giving us an updated book. The add-ons would contain a subject and the revamped text (credit card is already in hand for this).
It is an ok book taken as a whole, as it supports itself well, but standing next to the APG, its lack luster and dull, offering rehashed ideas in a new dim light as opposed to dramatic new gameplay. I think, this is where Paizo needs to stop, get a clear and over-arching vision of the landscape, before we see the WotC train wreck we saw in 2nd edition with game play and balance thrown out the window in lieu of the next quick buck.
Paizo still shines bright as a publisher of quality products, they have managed to keep Pathfinder on the tracks unlike WotC did with 2nd edition. However they are in danger of heading that way.