Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Rival Guide (PFRPG)

4.80/5 (based on 10 ratings)
Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Rival Guide (PFRPG)
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The Rival Guide presents 10 fully detailed rival adventuring groups, complete with specialized spells, equipment, magic items, and unusual minions. These groups cover a wide range of themes, from haunted pirates to drow death cultists, monstrous slavers to nigh-unstoppable arch-villains, and much, much more!

Inside this 64-page book, you’ll find:

  • Full stat blocks for 40 different NPCs, ranging from relatively minor foes at CR 2 to world-shaking menaces at CR 19. Use these as rival adventuring parties, or split them up when you need specific NPCs or even last-minute player characters.
  • Background information on each group discussing its history and goals, as well as on how to incorporate its members into your game as rivals for your PCs to clash against.
  • Several new alchemical items, feats, magic items, poisons, racial traits, and spells, along with a new template for characters haunted by ancient, sinister spirits and a simple template for alchemically invisible creatures.
  • The Rival Guide is intended for use with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and the Pathfinder campaign setting, but can easily be incorporated into any fantasy game setting.

    by Brian Cortijo, Adam Daigle, Tim Hitchcock, Brandon Hodge, Colin McComb, Jason Nelson, Amber Scott, Neil Spicer, and Todd Stewart

    ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-302-6

    Note: This product is part of the Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscription.

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    PZO9232


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    4.80/5 (based on 10 ratings)

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    What a brilliant book

    5/5

    Rival adventuring parties set to be recurring thorns in your players sides time and time again. From the downright evil to those that feel like they are helping everyone when really all they are doing is stirring up trouble. A group of rivals for nearly any campaign level :)


    You are Defined by your Enemies. RIVAL GUIDE

    5/5

    This awesomely useful book; how often have you needed to make a cast of villains for a game later that night? This book did the work. Check out my full review: Rival Guide


    Seriously helpful resource for GMs

    5/5

    I'm giving this five stars even though there are some negatives, because it's just so incredibly useful.

    Three times now, I've needed a party of evil, rival or antagonist NPCs in a hurry. At mid to high levels, this would take me a significant amount of time! But three times now, I've just grabbed the Rival Guide. A tweak here, a quick reskin there, and boom: NPC party, ready to go. I can't overstate how handy this is. And the book gives them some personality along with intra-party dynamics, goals and ambitions, and some quick notes on likely tactics in combat. It's just great. If you are a GM, good chance you will want this book -- and if Paizo writes another one like this, good chance I'll buy it.

    And, oh yes, the artwork is lovely. Most of the NPCs look like people you'd want to meet, fight with, or play as PCs of your own.

    So, overall, a fine piece of work and highly recommended.

    Now the negatives. First, as another reviewer has already noted, the character builds are somewhat standardized and often suboptimal. And I don't mean "suboptimal in a cool way", but suboptimal as in "why has this character dumped this important stat," "why is this character using this crappy weapon," or "whatever is the point of this feat". It's not a huge deal, but if you're going to give a 7th level character an AC of 13, then don't give that character feats that would suggest she'll be in melee.

    Second, the book has a lot of new items, feats and spells. Every single party has several of these. While it's nice to get new items and new feats, it's actually slightly overkill in this context. There are so many different options in the currently published books that it is totally possible to make ten original NPC parties, every one unique and different, without ever once needing special new spells or items. The new things are cool and all, but they take up valuable space and are, frankly, distracting. As a GM, I have enough going on running a complete party of NPCs without having to pause and think about how cockatrice grit works, whether sheet lightning is a good spell for the sorceror to throw right now, or whether the Pendant of the Blood Scarab is something I want my PCs getting their hands on. (It isn't.)

    I'm not saying Paizo should avoid new spells, feats and items -- but treat them like salt, please: a little bit will go a very long way. They're not what we're here for.

    Anyway, great product, please feel free to do another.

    Doug M.


    Concepts good, stat builds weak

    3/5

    I like the effort they put into the back-story of each NPC group. I just wish they put more effort into their stat blocks. Nearly every single spellcastor has "combat casting" feat. It is a better feat in PFRPG than in 3.5, but it still should not be an 'always take' feat. Melee NPCs faired better in feat selection, but failed in weapon and equipment choices (far too many potions! and very few good weapons). I know NPCs get far less money than PCs, that is why it is CRITICAL for them to choose gear wisely.

    Every NPC seemed to have taken generic ability score selections not at all focused on their class path which significantly weakened them. Even worse, few of them took an optimal path for their bonus attributes (4th, 8th, etc.) to maximize their primary stat.

    In the end the stat blocks seemed like they were created by a spreadsheet rather than a character that was trying to be the best at what he does in life. That is why it is 3 out of 5.


    One of the best books for GMs.

    5/5

    This book is a great resource, a vast improvement on the NPC guide. Many of the stat blocks in here are high level, which means the GM gets to save time doing math. The new feats, spells, and templates are excellent. The stat blocks have seemed well-balanced so far.

    Each of the parties presented in the Rival Guide makes for an interesting and three-dimensional encounter. Rivals can be used individually or in groups, but either way their personalities and goals make encountering them a memorable experience for your players.

    The "fluff" here is some of the most interesting fluff I've read, though most of the book is used for stats and mechanics. The art is high-quality. There is nothing I didn't like about this book.


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    Dark Archive

    More NPC's, cool.


    I absolutely love this idea. I love details on Adventuring parties

    Dark Archive

    Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

    As long as "wide range of power levels" actually includes at least one band over 15th level, I'll be looking forward to it.


    I hope that one of those parties is the dysfunctional one that always seems to be on the verge of falling apart yet still gets the job done. Rather like the one I'm in the LoF game I'm in here on the boards


    Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Card Game, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

    Hell yea! VERY useful.


    Another NPC Guide? No, thanks, that isn't for me.

    Paizo Employee Creative Director

    Kvantum wrote:
    As long as "wide range of power levels" actually includes at least one band over 15th level, I'll be looking forward to it.

    One bit of feedback that was ABSOLUTELY clear from the "NPC Guide" is that folks want and need higher level stat blocks. I'm hoping that this book will not only have a lot more higher level stats as a result (to make up for NPC Guide's lacking), but WILL have a super-high-level group. It'd be cool, in fact, to see a group of 20th level NPCs that'd work as an end-game type bad guy group.

    Dark Archive

    Pathfinder Card Game, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

    I'm sure it won't be a problem given your previous adventures, but can we expect that some of the parties will be generally Good aligned, as having a rival that is nominally supposed to be on the same side as you is always interesting

    Dark Archive

    Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
    James Jacobs wrote:
    Kvantum wrote:
    As long as "wide range of power levels" actually includes at least one band over 15th level, I'll be looking forward to it.
    One bit of feedback that was ABSOLUTELY clear from the "NPC Guide" is that folks want and need higher level stat blocks. I'm hoping that this book will not only have a lot more higher level stats as a result (to make up for NPC Guide's lacking), but WILL have a super-high-level group. It'd be cool, in fact, to see a group of 20th level NPCs that'd work as an end-game type bad guy group.

    "Cool" is not the word for how this would be. The actual word... well, isn't really able to be posted on the boards here, but ends in "freakin'-awesome". Can't wait to see this one.


    I'm not trying to argue, but just for the record...

    James Jacobs wrote:
    One bit of feedback that was ABSOLUTELY clear from the "NPC Guide" is that folks want and need higher level stat blocks.

    I'm guessing that you're thinking of this thread (although I'm sure that you're basing your claim on many other sources as well.)

    That thread started because Garygax wanted higher-level stat blocks. Flipper expressed much the same opinion in that thread. Slatz Grubnik and Dark_Mistress also said that they wanted higher levels. Exiled Prince, DeathQuaker, and wraithstrike seemed against it...

    ...but then, DeathQuaker defended the idea, saying that...

    DeathQuakder wrote:
    ...more people BUY lower level stuff.

    Andrew Phillips, Gorbacz, Ravenmantle, Abraham spalding, and Laithoron also defended the idea. SirUrza and Elorebaen LOVED the idea.

    You, yourself, said...

    James Jacobs wrote:
    The fact that producing high/epic level content takes more time and more work yet, according to ALL of our market research and anecdotal feedback and overall customer feedback won't appeal to as many customers (more work for less reward) makes it a tricky topic to design for.

    Finally, I said that I had never even considered getting the book until I heard that it lacked high-level characters. Because I heard that, I did in fact get it (albeit two months later.)

    Again, I'm not trying to argue. I won't deny that there's an audience for high-level characters, and I won't claim that the elimination of high-level parties would make me, or anyone else, get the book, necessarily. But you certainly seemed to have changed your tune from "ALL of our market research and anecdotal feedback and overall customer feedback," that's all.

    Silver Crusade

    Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

    While I am myself a big supporter of Low Level Stuff (none of my D&D games got past lvl 12 so far), I can understand the need for higher level statblocks.

    So now that we have an NPC book full of "lowbies", I will gladly see a book with mixed content. As long as it's not all CR 20 :)

    Dark Archive

    Hey, this is exactly what I've wished for... I *LOVE* using rival adventurers in my campaigns!

    And even if I wouldn't use the companies "as is", I'll get a lot of use out of individual NPCs. :)


    Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

    My game is level 14 now, so I could definitely use extra high level stat blocks and NPCs. I love the NPC Guide, but a book with more high CR characters is even more handy to me. I can fake a 5th level fighter in my sleep, but a good 15th level rogue is a lot tougher to improvise.


    This is especially ah-some from my perspective, because way back in April, in this thread, I suggested a product pretty much exactly like this one: 64 pages, 10 NPC parties. And now Paizo is coming out with pretty much exactly that product. Cool!

    (And I still think a pinup calendar is a good idea...)


    O ye gods! This is something that would be incredibly useful to me. Rival adventurers can be far more villainous than many monsters in my campaigns.

    A lvl 20 group of badguys would be most welcome.


    I was going to buy the NPC guide until I read that it was nothing but meat for my party. Now that I see this, if it does include mid-high level stat blocks then I just might buy not just this book, but the NPC guide as well with it.
    I can see myself using the higher level group sending the lower level fodder out to test PC's.

    Contributor

    vikking wrote:

    I was going to buy the NPC guide until I read that it was nothing but meat for my party. Now that I see this, if it does include mid-high level stat blocks then I just might buy not just this book, but the NPC guide as well with it.

    I can see myself using the higher level group sending the lower level fodder out to test PC's.

    It's a pretty good spread of level/CR. Without going into too much detail, for instance one of the other contributors did a level 20 party. My group -which I had a blast making- is an average CR of 9.

    Silver Crusade

    Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

    You've made many people happy with that spoiler, Todd !

    Contributor

    Gorbacz wrote:
    You've made many people happy with that spoiler, Todd !

    Hopefully I don't get in trouble now.

    *locks self away in a bunker with three Milla Jovavich clones. To play Pathfinder of course*

    Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

    Yeah, I don't think GMs will have any problem finding a party of just about any CR range they desire. That was a conscious design approach.

    ::knock, knock::

    Hey, Todd. Any room in that bunker? :-)

    Scarab Sages Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Legendary Games

    Enlight_Bystand wrote:
    I'm sure it won't be a problem given your previous adventures, but can we expect that some of the parties will be generally Good aligned, as having a rival that is nominally supposed to be on the same side as you is always interesting

    I think there's at least one or two intended to fit this category... theoretically on the same side (and even potential allies in the right circumstance), and yet troublesome for the PCs all the same.

    Contributor

    Anyone listening to my interview on the recent Chronicles: Pathfinder Podcast episode(#009) gets a super-huge mega spoiler on my chapter in this book. Yes, my NPC rival party is really high CR, and if you are looking to end the lives of troublesome PCs, or for that matter any campaigns that have overstayed their welcome, then look no further than the servants of Shax known only as...The Dust Coven. Bwahahahaha!

    Contributor

    *puts on his German soldier costume*

    I vill tell you nahsink! Nahsink!!

    /Schulz

    More seriously, I'm not so sure how much I can or should share, so I'll just say that I was in on the book, too. And... that's it.

    Hopefully, our friends at Paizo will have some nice, juicy tidbits to share as we get closer to the release this Spring.

    Paizo Employee Creative Director

    Okay folks... (and by "folks" I mean folks who are writing NPCs for this book)...

    Ease back on the showing off and the spoilers. Because until the book has been developed and edited and sent to the printer, NOTHING is set in stone. Spoilering elements in unpublished books is kind of a tricky stunt as a result. In the interest of properly managing expectations, we generally don't do much spoilering until we're sure what we're spoilering will actually be in the book—it's frustrating to get customers excited about something only to later have to tell them, "Sorry, you don't get to see that after all."

    So pipe down all of ya!!! Don't make me send Tom Rex in here!!!

    Scarab Sages Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Legendary Games

    Sir Yes Sir! Hoo-ah!


    Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

    I wrote the section for Group Not Appearing in this Book. :D.

    Contributor

    James Jacobs wrote:


    So pipe down all of ya!!! Don't make me send Tom Rex in here!!!

    Very much noted sir :)

    But having said that, Tom Rex doesn't scare me. You haven't met my girlfriend. ;)

    Liberty's Edge

    Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber
    Todd Stewart wrote:
    James Jacobs wrote:


    So pipe down all of ya!!! Don't make me send Tom Rex in here!!!

    Very much noted sir :)

    But having said that, Tom Rex doesn't scare me. You haven't met my girlfriend. ;)

    If she has normal sized arms, she's already up one on Tom.


    whoops, sorry if I got ya all in trouble, James, it was my fault. they are just trying to convince a stubborn buyer and well, they just may have with some of the stuff I just read. Now if I can get these guys to pimp my writing as much as your stuff, well id be sitting comfy right now....lol

    Paizo Employee Franchise Manager

    1 person marked this as a favorite.
    Tessius wrote:
    Todd Stewart wrote:
    James Jacobs wrote:


    So pipe down all of ya!!! Don't make me send Tom Rex in here!!!

    Very much noted sir :)

    But having said that, Tom Rex doesn't scare me. You haven't met my girlfriend. ;)

    If she has normal sized arms, she's already up one on Tom.

    Tom's arms are normal size. It's his body (and his teeth!) that are oversized. Perhaps "proportional" is the word you were looking for?


    Mark, I just had to chime in and say I love the avitar. It looks like Yoda on crack....lol


    Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

    Hmm. As of now, the Rival Guide, Undead Revisited, and the Pathfinder Society Field Guide are all slated for a June release. I really doubt that'll happen. I just hope the Rival Guide is bumped back to May, instead of the other two books being pushed back to June/July.

    Dark Archive

    vikking wrote:
    Mark, I just had to chime in and say I love the avitar. It looks like Yoda on crack....lol

    Well, it's only appropriate, because Mark himself looks like Yoda on crack...

    Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

    The product image and description have been updated to match the finished product.

    Paizo Employee Managing Developer

    Damn you, Sean K Reynolds and your hope-shattering ways!

    ;)

    Dark Archive

    Cool cover


    Hopefully the stats will make more sense than they did in the NPC Guide, with its orc warlord with a Con of 8.


    Very nice, this is the book I hoped the NPC Guide would be, full of NPCs at a wide range of levels that I can use as blank slates for my own campaigns. Between this, the older NPC guide, all the NPCs in the APs I have, and the stats in the back of the GMG I hope to never need to worry about creating NPCs from scratch again.


    Cool cover, it makes me think of what if Sauron and hellboy got into a fight.

    Silver Crusade

    Nice magical effects going on in the cover. :)


    Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

    The guy underneath is (most likely) a hellknight, but who is that crazy dude on top? Flaming wings=incredibly awesome!


    Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

    I'm glad this is coming next. My level 16 group needs some rivals.


    Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

    Sweet, this is back to shipping in May! I'm pumped to see that party of evil 19th-level dudes.

    This, Ultimate Magic, Broken Moon... I'm gonna be spoiled in a few weeks.

    The Exchange

    Who is the smurf kicking hellnight booty on the cover? His moves are pretty hawt.

    Contributor

    I've got some of the artwork from this one now set as my desktop background. It's seriously cool stuff. :D

    Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

    It's cool to see this product finally out. And, for those of you running the Carrion Crown AP, you might want to check out the Night Harrows for some high-level NPCs that could further enhance that campaign in the later chapters.

    Grand Lodge

    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Rulebook Subscriber

    Got my PDFs of this last night, and I want to say, great product!

    It is getting short shift on my reading list next to Broken Moon and Ultimate Magic, but people shouldn't pass this one up.

    I really really like the crunch index to go along side the main index. There really is a lot in here int he way of spells/items/misc that can flavour any campaign with a dash of awesome sauce. Given Niel's post above mine, I'm going to bookmark the night harrows *evil gm grin*


    Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

    ARRGGH! I am still waiting for my subscriber PDF of this, Ultimate Magic, and Carrion Crown 3. You guys are making the wait both harder and sweeter!

    ::Puts elbows on desk and chin on hands to look at the screen with intent eyes full of childish wonder::

    "Please, Unca' Neil, tell me moooooorrre!"

    :)

    Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

    Ashanderai wrote:
    "Please, Unca' Neil, tell me moooooorrre!"

    Well...let's just say that many people have noticed certain horror icons showing up in Carrion Crown so far...

    Spoiler:
    ...i.e., ghosts for the Haunting of Harrowstone, the Frankenstein monster for the Trial of the Beast, werewolves in Broken Moon, Cthulu-esque horrors in Wake of the Watcher, vampires in Ashes at Dawn, etc. But there's another horror "icon" absent from the AP. I did my best to include him in the Rival Guide...and he's a member of the Night Harrows. ;-)

    Another teasing two cents,
    --Neil


    Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
    Neil Spicer wrote:
    Ashanderai wrote:
    "Please, Unca' Neil, tell me moooooorrre!"

    Well...let's just say that many people have noticed certain horror icons showing up in Carrion Crown so far...

    ** spoiler omitted **
    Another teasing two cents,
    --Neil

    Hmmm...

    I can think of two, but I am gonna go with...

    Spoiler:
    Mummy.

    My other guess would be...
    Spoiler:
    Creature from the Black Lagoon, but since we already have an aquatic horror element in the AP I think this option is less likely.

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