Ultimate Relationships #2: The Viking Shieldmaiden (PFRPG) PDF

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The Viking Shieldmaiden is a proud viking warrior who must come to grips with the taste of dishonor and failure. With the PCs’ help, she might come out the other side stronger than ever. The Viking Shieldmaiden is extremely competitive, reacts aggressively when she feels she is being disrespected, and often becomes confused when the ins and outs of viking honor aren’t as obvious to others as they are to her. However, she is fiercely loyal to her true friends and comrades, and she is never bitter about losing a competition fairly, merely excited to improve and try again.

The original Ultimate Relationships provided the basic rules and structure for building effective and fun relationships with NPCs in the game, and this ongoing series takes that a step further by providing you with a fully developed, robustly detailed NPC in every product, some drawn from published Adventure Paths, others from Legendary Games products, and still others entirely new. Each installment includes the character's game statistics as well as the relationship characteristics that make them a long-running campaign character that your players will talk about for years to come.

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An Endzeitgeist.com review

4/5

This installment of the Ultimate Relationship-series clocks in at 8 pages - 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page how to use, 1 page SRD leaving us with 4 pages of content, so let's take a look!

All right, so this series provides romantic interests for the PCs as per the Ultimate Relationship-rules, so I'm assuming you're familiar with them. If not, check out that pdf first (and/or my review for it).

Okay, in supposedly a formatting glitch, we start this file with a double header: "The rabbit Prince" is oddly printed sans context above the proper headline, "The Viking Maiden." Stat-wise, the lady would be an unchained barbarian with the superstitious rage power - it should come as no surprise, then, that her affinity is with martial characters and honorable fighters; her negative affinity particularly pronounced regarding witches, particularly those of Irrisen.

The viking maiden, once encountered, is the sole survivor of a botched raid on a dungeon that saw all her allies killed and herself trapped - hence, upon freeing her, the immediate reaction to her is pretty important - pity does not work well within her cultural paradigm. Advancement-wise, she focuses on two-weapon fighting with her shield. Physical relationships are rather easy to have with the lady, but to get to her heart, PCs will need to work.

The rank-ups of the viking maiden are centered around understanding viking culture (or rather, somewhat stereotypical tropes pertaining it) and range from Perform (oratory) to knowledge (local) and also sport several combative tasks - from a nonlethal duel to arm wrestling and competitive drinking, one has to prove prowess and a willingness to learn about her culture to find the humanity behind her brash and competitive behavior, the doubts and anxieties that are there. If she is not taken to rank 4 before fulfilling her temporary oath to accompany characters to her homeland, she leaves.

Boon-wise, rank 7 unlocks Intimidate or Profession (sailor) as class skills and grants +1 to CMD versus disarm and sunder, while rank 10 provides shared trait bonuses and an AC-bonus when adjacent to the shield maiden...and potentially, when the character's using a shield himself, a two-person Shield Wall teamwork feat benefit.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, though e.g. when separating lines are used is a bit inconsistent - still nothing grievous to complain about. Layout adheres to a nice two-column full-color standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length. The pdf has no artwork.

Mark Seifter's Shield Maiden is pretty much the tough warrior containing a wound from the past that she only shows to her most trusted allies. The general progression is interesting, the romance iconic enough in its progression, but I do feel the whole viking component and her nature as a shield maiden would have provided a great way to make her more detailed, more unique - as written, her overall romantic progression failed to take the cultural tidbits and gender roles into account, which could have been used to flesh her out in much more detail. That being said, this is not a bad romance and her arc is solid. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.


Building a relationship with a viking maiden

4/5

This is a review for 'Ultimate Relationships #2: The Viking Shieldmaiden', a supplement by Legendary Games. I'm not a native speaker (I'm German), so I may have fumbled my language skill checks from time to time. Give me a note if I wrote something wrong and I'll try to make myself more clear.

Ultimate Relationship in general
First of all, the Ultimate-Relationship NPCs need Ultimate Relationships (also by Legendary Games) to fully function, for Ultimate Relationships gives the groundwork this supplements build on, so plan to add this to the costs. Ultimate Relationships is good on its own though, so that's no real problem aside from the price tag. All in all, Ultimate Relationships improves the interest in the NPCs, improves role playing, and encourages a friendly race to reach and master the 'Breakthroughs' with the various NPCs. When my group leveled up, they always had a look at their notes regarding the NPCs while doing the skill points. 'If I put something into this skill, it will help me with this NPC... ' was something I liked hearing behind my screen. And getting through breaktroughs with NPCs is often celebrated like the win against a boss monster.

The Viking Shieldmaiden
Now on to the supplement itself. Ultimate Relationships has about 4 pages for one NPC, a female barbarian. The supplement is based on Kelda Oxgutter from the Jade Regent Adventure Path, but the stats are different from those in the Brinewall Legacy, most notably the Shieldmaiden is Unchained. I like that, this way you can chose between her and the 'Original', picking the one that suits you most. What I miss is a combat section for the Shieldmaiden, though for a low level character her tactics and preparations are not too hard to guess. I'd have liked to see some more stats of hers for higher levels, not only the small hints that are provided. That would relieve a GM of some duties since the NPC is supposed to stick around and not everyone is good at constructing shield based warriors or superstitious barbarians.

Next we get a nice history of the characters with extra notes regarding Jade Regent, but the author always looked into how to use her outside of that Path, and I like that very much. I also like the Preferred Gift and Interactions part, which really helps to bring her personality to life. Affinity Notes and thoughts about her joining the party and staying with it are also nicely done.

Regarding boons I like the level 10 boon, but the level 7 boon could be better. The CMD-Bonus is not that good and I'm not sure if I understand the 'specialization' right – is it a Skill Focus?

Now we'll get to the Rank Ups, and here I see the problem of them being very difficult. Since the Shieldmaiden will be seen as a warrior-class when first met I'll guess mostly martial inclined characters will be drawn toward her. The text claims that she likes fighters and skalds, which makes sense, and one of the boon requires you to fight with a shield yourself, which is also well thought of. But then you need lots of high and different skills to get the Shieldmaiden swooning, which isn't that easily achievable by the typical warrior with an intelligence dumpstat. I understand that diplomacy and sense motive is always useful in every relationship, and perform has its roots in viking society, but Linguistics DC 26 and Knowledge (history) DC 28 out of the blue will not be easily achieved and may potentially be frustrating for martial characters at first glance. But as mentioned in the discussion thread, the rank-ups can be used as a flat ability check at a lower DC, and affinty also gives a bonus. You also receive a cumulative +2 bonus for each attempt at a rank-up, so by design, if you keep at it, you are eventually guaranteed to succeed.

Conclusion:
If you want to see an interesting NPC joining your party for a longer time and you like role playing, then you'll want to get your hands on this supplement (and its 'mother' Ultimate Relationships), even if you don't plan to play Jade Regent. The problems I mentioned above are correctable without too much work (with the possible exception of the statblocks) and you can tailor the Shieldmaiden for your own campaign without troubles. I'll settle for 4.5 out of 5 stars, rounded down, for this interesting character.

Have fun!


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Reviewed. Have fun!

I'm looking forward to see Aeysha Villani (out of Region F in 'Road to Destiny') next!


Thanks so much for the review Oliver!

When running rank-ups, keep in mind that rank-ups can be used as a flat ability check at a lower DC (For instance, DC 28 skill checks = DC 19 ability check, though if it's trained-only there is an increase) and that you receive a cumulative +2 bonus for each attempt at a rank-up, so by design, if you keep at it, you are eventually guaranteed to succeed; it just might take a while. If she has affinity for you, you get a +2 on everything and need fewer CP to reach the next rank, so her affinity for fighters and skalds also has a mechanical effect of assisting them a good deal.


You are right, the ability check slipped my mind. I've adjusted my review accordingly. Thanks for reminding me!


Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS and d20pfsrd.com's shop.

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