The third act of Andy Slack's gaming blog

The Pathfinder for SWADE Kickstarter keeps on delivering; I think this is drop 8, but to be honest I’m losing track now, and this may have been out for some time before I noticed it. Since it’s a single item rather than a group, I shall review it by name rather than as a drop. 132 page PDF, price unknown at time of writing.

What’s Inside?

This book is almost all setting fluff taken from several Pathfinder 1st Edition books, and is split into nine chapters:

  • The Pathfinder Society. This is the default patron organisation for the PCs, and is devoted to exploring places of mystery, looting them, and documenting the findings. This chapter explains the history and organisation of the Society, whose lodges act as a source of mundane equipment and quests.
  • The Inner Sea Region. This chapter is largely a timeline of the 10,000 years of recorded history in the region.
  • The Inner Sea Gazetteer. Each nation in the default region of play gets a half-page or so of descriptive text. The Rise of the Runelords campaign takes place in Varisia, but there seems to be a nation for every fantasy subgenre you might want.
  • Adventure Generator. This is the chapter I would expect to use the most; one draws three cards to generate the skeleton of an adventure, with the suit defining one aspect and the value another. The first determines the objective and how the PCs become involved, the second defines the opposition and their motivation, and the third, a complication which will make the PCs’ task more difficult. The tables for the card draws are followed by d20 tables for random encounters in each major terrain type.
  • Factions. This describes five major factions in some detail, including their alignment, headquarters, leader, prominent members, structure, scope, and resources; each gets a couple of pages. These major factions are the Aspis Consortium (evil fantasy megacorporation), the Eagle Knights (missionary templars of the nation of Andoran), the Fang Monastery (evil monks inspired by serpentmen), the Hellknights (whatever-it-takes law enforcers), and the Red Mantis (assassins’ cult). We also get a paragraph or two on each of a number of lesser factions.
  • Adventuring in the Inner Sea. Additional character options, largely trees of ‘prestige edges’ which allow your PC to become a Hellknight, a Red Mantis assassin, or a Harrower (a mystical fortune-teller), backed up by mundane and magical items appropriate to those careers.
  • Religion. A general overview, half a page each on the 20 main gods of the Inner Sea, and brief notes on lesser-known deities, archdevils, demons and others. I found the most useful parts to be the tables listing the gods, their domains and areas of interest, and favoured weapons; that’s the level of detail I’d want to give the average player – “Okay, you worship Sarenrae, she is the goddess of fire, glory, good, healing and the sun, and she likes scimitars.”
  • The Great Beyond. If you want to expand into planar adventures, this describes the planes. I’ve been playing and running D&D-a-likes for over 40 years now and I have never left the Prime Material plane, so I don’t expect to use this much, but there it is if you want it.
  • Artefacts. What it says on the tin; magical McGuffins of immense power such as the Book of Infinite Spells or the Philosopher’s Stone, things that an entire campaign should be built around finding, using and destroying.

What Do I Think?

Most of the Companion is background fluff which would very rarely come into play in a session; I might read it for inspiration but I wouldn’t expect the players to know any of it. If you’re a fan of Paizo’s Pathfinder 1st Edition, you probably have a lot of this already.

I expect to use the adventure generator and the encounter tables, possibly in other settings as well as Golarion; I might lift the factions as background actors; and when and if I run a game in Golarion the tables of gods’ domains and weapons would be handy.

So, I would probably use two and a bit chapters out of the nine. I particularly like the adventure generator, which strikes me as better done than usual for a Savage Worlds product, and widely applicable to other campaign settings.

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