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Pathfinder Chronicles: Heart of the Jungle (PFRPG)Paizo Inc.
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Excellent PCS bookShoulderPatch —
Having owned a few of the Pathfinder Chronicle/campaign setting books now this one stands out as easily in the top 3 books of it's type ever done by Paizo. Even without all the hard game rules of the core line this book deserves 5 stars and is as close to a non-rule based "must have" book as one can get just for how it can strike the imagination.
While it does tie in with it's semi-companion book Sargava The Lost Colony, and the pirate islands book which the name escapes me at the moment but whose region is adjacent to the Mwangi Expanse, it can entirely stand on it's own. Even going beyond just the PF game I would say this is one of if not the top jungle setting I've seen done for any game system (and on that note, it wouldn't be all that hard to narratively convert either). That independence from the rest of the world also makes it such a great campaign setting... it truly is a more wild and free place than all the rest of Golarion. Even more so than the Linnorn Kingdoms (although side note, that was another great book). It is flat out rife for old school adventuring.
It's really just an honestly fun read. Sit down with a drink and even if you didn't plan on using the setting, although as a GM if you didn't then trust me that by the time you're done with it you will, you'll enjoy reading about it. I had the extra advantage of reading it on a back porch on a hot muggy summer day last year so it added to the ambiance. ;) It's a great, mostly unexplored chunk of the Golarion setting that is presented in a function and enjoyably readable way.
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Mythic Adventures (OGL)Paizo Inc.
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Rare mixed, but generally okay, scoreShoulderPatch —
This book presents an excellent way, which I think worked better than 3.0-3.5's epic system, to allow for the truly legendary and heroic heroes of the world. Think less Aragorn and more Beowulf. In general it is a fine product and I don't recommend against getting it.
That said though I found it flawed in two ways which, while they've occasionally crept up into other PF/Paizo books, I think need to be noted.
In summary though, I want to make it clear that for it's price it's not a bad book. I'd give it a C++ or B-, it won't be something you regret (especially if you don't care much about a few images being a little off). It was a good, and unique, Paizo/Pathfinder book just not one of their very best.
Excellent pre-made adventureShoulderPatch —
I had a chance to preview this recently and I've got to say it impressed me with how it fills its niche as a product for the GM on the go. Finding a game coming up in a night or two and you've got nothing prepared? You aren't going to regret buying this, certainly not at it's quality and cost. It will absolutely save you time and frustration trying to do an adventure yourself, it's flat out a fun little 'dungeon' crawl. This will fit in as a smaller subadventure in a larger chain you're doing, or it will fit in as a good game night killer when you've just got to get something ready and you just don't have the time.
It's well organized and you're going to find virtually everything you want precalculated done for you. It offers some variety in what group make ups can take it on (some of it takes place in water or swampy terrain so expect the nature classes to have some fun, it features some undead so your clerics and pallys could end up being of use, it's got some places skill monkeys will get to shine if they're smart, etc). The maps and artwork are above the quality you'd need. It all follows the theme of "If you use this, you're saving yourself hours of work as a GM".
As pre-mades go it also has enough flexibility built in you could gear it to a higher or lower level/difficulty with almost no effort on your part, so if you get it when your PC's are level 2 or 4 or 5 or something it's still a useful GM tool. In fact at several points this is already done for you, encounters are given a couple of pre-done alterations in case your group is really optimized or full of beginners, or you want to hit it at a level higher or lower.
When looking at pre-made adventures one of the questions I think a GM really has to ask is if the money on the product is worth the time it will save the GM, and I think this product is a good example of a guilt free "yes".
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Combat (OGL)Paizo Inc.
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Helping to close the caster/everyone else gapShoulderPatch —
Raise your hand if you play or run melee classes. Barbarians, Fighters, Monks, Rogues, Paladins, pretty much anything without 9 levels of spells. Is your hand raised?
Now look around. Does the person next to you NOT have their hand raised? No they don't? Quickly! Use your raised hand to smack them in the face! Ha! Now you've shown the pansy finger wigglers the power of combat characters. Now make them go away so you can read your reviews in peace.
Ultimate Combat serves some great functions in the scope of the PF:RPG.
It helps bring non-casters a little more in line with the potential power of casters in the metagame by adding a slew of new feats and archtypes directly relevant to them. How much milage you get from these may vary, but lest you think they're all just blow off concepts, I know for certainty at least 1 Magus, 1 Monk, and 1 Inquistor archtype from this book that are definitely considered competative for 'best build to get the most out of this class' in the guides and discussions I've read on the Paizo forums, and they added some Bard ones that are just interestingly different (Try the archeologist bard if you want to play a bard/rogue cross. Try to resist the temptation to use a whip... or don't. ;) )
The spells section brings about some new toys for all casters but it did try and keep a combat focus, that was nice for the 4 and 6 spell level casters. If you're a Paladin or Inquisitor look into the new Litany line you'll probably find something you like, as will most other classes.
The Gunslinger is an interesting addition to the core classes and I think a positive one because it adds a new dynamic to how combat can work, and does a good job putting firearms in a magical setting that could allow them. If they're not your cup of tea it's easy to just dissallow them in your campaign or keep their rarity higher, but if you're playing in PFS/Golarion it's good to have in case you want to travel to regions they're thematic for.
The Asian inspired new classes, the Samurai and Ninja, are also positive additions. Some debate arises with the Ninja, it truly does do what the Rogue does only some solid arguements can be made it does it better, I know several players who now build "Rogues" using the Ninja class. However looking at the current metagame of Pathfinder Rogues were often much malagined as one of the least powerful classes, I'm not going to fault Paizo for offering a potential alterantive that rocks!
Rounding out the book it offers some rules and stats on siege weapons and warfare, and expanded vehicle rules and vehicle combat rules, along with dozens of new weapons and armor. The first two can really assist a GM, and the last gives you options from different places (asian themed) and times (stone age, bronze age, for example).
I can't give this book 5 stars, Ultimate Magic was a bit better, and it's not on par with what the APG did, but in the end what is it? It's a solid 4. Unless you play just casters and only casters you probably won't be dissappointed, because it's a solid book that does what you want it to do, and you'll feel like the money was worth it 9 times out of 10.
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Player's Guide (OGL)Paizo Inc.
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Excellent addition to the Core game, almost a must haveShoulderPatch —
An excellent book that goes above and beyond what you could have expected, and in a way is the book that solidified Paizo, to the horde of "that other games" exiles, as a true game maker in it's own right, able to create not just a great stand alone game that could make Gygax and Arneson smile in the afterlife, but also follow it up with equally great 'splat' books.
The race section set the tone for the later ARG(Advance Race Guide, another good book), by diversifying the races even more. In particular the optional favored class options were a solid addition. I'd say offhand 3 of every 5 characters I make use something out of just that section alone, it really lets you de-cookie cutter your character within their own race.
The new classes are generally well balanced, with a mix of power levels relative to the metagame, and thematically each brings something new to the game. The Oracle, Witch, and Inquisitor are personal favorites, and don't let the names throw you off... much like the core classes, they can be tweaked to fill different RP concepts. The Inquisitor in many ways could have been renamed Grizzled Detective for example, and I have a close friend playing it like that in a game I was in.
The Feats and Spells... I won't ruin them by revealing too much, but you will find something in there to use, it isn't just worthless filler, it is a remarkably well balanced range of useful additions without being so overpowered they obsolete old books and spells. I'd say 4 of every 5 characters I make, by level 8-10, are using at least one if not more of these feats.
Many of the new magic items creation rules are enchancement's that didn't appear in the Core rulebook because it was a follow on to a forerunner game, but Paizo has added in much of what players had always felt should have been there when the previous makers of this style of game did it (alignment focused armors, and acid damage on your weapon to match the fire, cold, and electricity in the core book, anyone?)
The artwork, if you liked the artwork in Core and the Bestiary, you're going to continue to love it here. Since art is a matter of individual taste, I'll just leave you with that.
If you order the Core book and don't own anything else, just get this at the same time, it's balanced so well I've never known a GM that didn't allow "Core+the APG", even when they wanted to play by just the most bare bones books and options. That's just a testament to the solid job Paizo did on this book, where it adds power, while keeping 'power creep' out and keeping balance in mind as well.
If there was a school of role playing game writing, this book would be required reading to show how it's done right. Bluntly, this book is a must have . If you're reading this, and you haven't purchased it, finances allowing do so now. You will NOT be disappointed, be you a GM or a player of any class.