[Rezi]Rogue Genius Games – The Tomb of Felgar the Goblin King

RGG-toFtGKRogue Genius Games ist einer meiner liebsten Kleinverlage aus der Pathfinderszene, insbesondere weil einer der Mitbegründer Owen K.C. Stephens ist, den ich als Designer wie als Person sehr schätze und der inzwischen wohl besser als festangestellter Paizo-Mitarbeiter und Chefdesigner des Starfinder Regelsystems bekannt ist. Als mir daher kürzlich eine Mail reinflatterte, die mich über ein riesiges RGG Bundle informierte, habe ich nicht lange zögern müssen, bevor ich mir das zulegte, immerhin sind das so etwa 390 PDFs für schlappe 30 Dollar (und weil ich schon einiges davon besaß, wurde es für mich nochmals deutlich billiger). Und in einem Anflug von Übermotivation hab ich auch gleich eines gelesen, um es hier in Rezension vorzustellen. Um genauer zu sein, hab ich die erste PDF ausgewählt, die laut Drivethru von dem Verlag in meinem Besitz ist, die aber witzigerweise noch dem Vorgängerverlag Super Genius Games gehört und damit gar kein Teil des Bundles war.

One night Stand – The Tomb of Felgar the Goblin King liegt mir in der überarbeiten Fassung von 2009 vor, die sich von der ursprünglichen Version von 2008 vor allem im Layout unterscheidet (das Layout der Originalversion lehnt sich an das Layout der früheren AD&D-Bücher an, während die Neuauflage klar an das Layout der 4. Edition von D&D angelehnt ist (es gibt übrigens auch eine 4E Variante dieses Abenteuers). Der Inhalt ist weitestgehend gleich geblieben.

Idee hinter diesem Produkt ist, dem Spielleiter ein Abenteuer an die Hand zu geben, für dessen Leitung er einen möglichst geringen Vorbereitungsaufwand betreiben muss. Das ist den Designern auch ganz hervorragend gelungen, führt allerdings auch zu einem recht großen Umfang für ein doch recht kurzes Abenteuer. Die PDF umfasst 34 Seiten, von denen eigentlich nur 4 der Beschreibung des eigentlichen Abenteuers dienen, dass von daher wohl ganz vorzüglich für einen One Night Stand dient. Der große Rest enthält insbesondere vollfarbige Kartenquadranten, die man ausdrucken, zusammenfügen und damit eine recht große Kampfkarte des titelgebenden Grabs erstellen kann. Besonderer Clou dabei ist, dass eine Reihe dieser Quadranten in einer alternativen Version vorliegen, die es dem SL ermöglichen, das zu erforschende Gebiet erst nach und nach aufzudecken, so dass die Spielern bestimmte Geheimnisse erst entdecken müssen, bevor sie auf der Karte sichtbar werden. Dazu kommt eine einseitige Gebietskarte für den Spielleiter selbst, der damit leichter den Überblick behält, sowie 4 Seiten, auf denen jeweils der für eine bestimmte Kampfbegegnung relevante Kartenabschnitt gezeigt wird, und die außerdem ausschneidbare Aufsteller enthalten, auf denen im Comicstil alle im Abenteuer benutzten Monster gezeichnet sind.

In der Neuauflage kommt noch eine Seite hinzu, die die wichtigsten Spielwerte der Monster enthält. Diese folgen der Darstellung der 4E-Monster und wirken damit sehr übersichtlich, obwohl auf einigen der Karten das Druckformat schon sehr klein gewählt wurde, so dass ich es auch bei großer Vergrößerung auf verschiedenen Geräten nicht wirklich lesen konnte und eher raten musste, was da stehen soll. Das ist aber auch mein einziger Kritikpunkt, ansonsten bekommt man hier ein wirklich toll aufbereitetes Kurzabenteuer, dass man locker an einem einzelnen Spielabend über die Bühne bringen kann.

Inhaltlich kann man natürlich kaum etwas zu dem Abenteuer sagen, ohne zu spoilern. Letzten Endes ist es nicht mehr als ein kleiner Dungeon Crawl, den man wahrscheinlich in jede Welt, in der es Goblins gibt, problemlos einbauen kann. Hintergrund ist, dass es einst eine größere Goblinzivilisation gab, Felgar ein legendenhafter Goblinkönig ist, dessen Grabmal eines der größten goblinischen Heiligtümer ist, dieses aber im Dunkel der Zeit verschollen ging und nun seiner Wiederentdeckung hart. Bis heute suchen die Goblins nach diesem Grab, und, man kann es bei dem Titel des Moduls wohl erraten, ist die Zeit bis zu seiner Wiederentdeckung nicht mehr fern.

Laut Cover ist das Modul für Charaktere der 2. bis 5. Stufe geeignet, wobei ich glaube, dass es für Charaktere der 2. Stufe sehr herausfordernd, für Charaktere der 5. Stufe aber schon deutlich zu einfach sein dürfte, die Wahrheit also wohl eher in der Mitte liegt. Ansonsten ist diese Modul wirklich hervorragend dazu geeignet, auf Halde zu liegen um in einem passenden Moment hervorgezaubert zu werden, wenn man mal nicht viel zeit zur Vorbereitung hatte. Darüber hinaus enthält es trotz der Kürze schöne Ideen, wie man den Hintergrund der eigenen Welt anreichern kann bzw. , wie man mit den Folgen der Entdeckung dieses Grabs umgehen kann.

Auch fast zehn Jahre später sehe ich daher allen Grund, eine Kaufempfehlung auszusprechen und gebe trotz des angesprochenen Schönheitsfehlers fünf von fünf möglichen Sternen.

Dragon Magazine #27: Board Games and the Philosopher Stone

Dragon #27The cover of dragon #27 depicts a knight in shining armor readying an attack , lance in his hand, sitting on his horse. Good example of what Editor Tim Kask admits in this issue’s editorial, that some of the covers so far were, let’s say mediocre. And why’s he saying that? Well, #27 is another birthday issue and Mr. Kask takes the opportunity to look back on what The Dragon did well and what it did not so well. He’s also looking forward to what is yet to come, though most things he talks about come down to ‚more of the same, but better‘.

It’s Tim Kask again who reviews SPI’s The Battle of Agincourt, one of those battle simulation games I ‚ve not understood why to play them til today. As much as I’m a history afficionado (and even have studied it for some years), I’ve never had the least interest to play such simulations especially when the result of the game is enforced to ensure historical accurateness. According to the words of Tim Kask, Agincourt is such a game, where the English army will win every time as long as you’re playing by the book. This is like me playing a game of chess against Magnus Carlsen . Ok, but enough from me, Mr. Kask, while critizising some minor points, generally likes this game very much, so different tastes and all.

The game’s designer, James Dunnigan, follows up with some Designer Notes regarding this game. According to him, this game is more than just that, it is also a historical study regarding medieval strategies, tactics and battle formations. This also explains certain design decisions he made regarding leadership and morale factors. Still not my cup of tea, but at least I can see why someone might like activities like this.

The third Agincourt article by Steve Alvin is easily the most interesting of those three. The Political and Military Effects of Agincourt on the Hundred Years War describes the political situation and events in England and France leading to the Battle of Agincourt as well as the consequences and developments after this decisive English victory. I generally like those articles, because when you’re building your own world, they can be really helpful in inspiring the timeline of your setting and the relations between different countries.

Elementals and the Philosopher Stone by Jeff Swycaffer is the first D&D related article of this issue. Jeff presents a new system of 12 elements as well as 12 elementals. Interestingly enough, those 12 elements include Good and Evil (with their elementals being angels and demons), so there is a bit of alignment involved. Apart from those elementals already published in official products, each gets a short description of their looks and their special powers , while a table with game values makes them ready to be used in play. The article also contains instructions to build your own philosopher’s stone as an irregular polyhedron which can be used as a die. Which he uses to add simple rules for a more or less funny Question-Answer game. I think this article is mostly interesting for the fact that he seem to have influenced how D&D’s Inner Planes would be presented in later editions.

In this issue’s Sorcerer’s Scroll, guest author Bob Bledsaw gives his thoughts on what Judges Guild has done for the success of D&D as a whole. As I was a bit late to the party, I’ve never used anything by JG but I’ve heard more good than bad about it. And at the least, this article gives a nice overwiev about the product list, Judges Guild created over the years. Next is a short report on 1979’s Cangames, a canadian convention Gary Gygax visited. And he has a lot of praise for it.

Out on a Limb returns with a very longish answer to accusations against Ralph Bakshi in a former issue. And a very short answer by the editor himself to a really harsh attack against the critique formulated regarding the Soldier of Fortune magazine.

Next is a short articly by Gary Jordan about the use of a Tesseract as an Traveller Artifact, that can be used as additional storage room or as an escape pod in case of an emergency situation. What follows is a one-page comic by Tom Wham about „The Voyages of Exploration Ship Znutar”, which is mainly an advertisment for the game to follow up in the next issue. After that, it’s again Gary Jordan’s turn, this time with a short system for Star System Generation in the Traveller game.

Next article is the Designers‘ notes on Glenn and Kenneth Rahman’s game Divine Rights. Again, board game, so not too much love from me, but Minaria, the background setting for this game was quite awesome and I really enjoyed the article series Minarian Legends that would be later published in the pages of Dragon, but we’ll come back to that.

A quick look at Dwarves by Lance Harrop is a short summary of how the dwarven army might be organised. It comes with a chart for that organization which I guess could easily serve to form a dwarven army in any kind of system that has some rules for mass combat.

Aaaaand another set of Designers‘ notes, this time for The Emerald Tablet, which is a set of rules for miniature combat within a fantasy setting, that seems to be mainly remarkable for how it includes magic into the combat system though it seems as if this game never got much traction.

The second issue of Lawrence Schick’s and Tom Moldvay’s series Giants in the Earth presents Alan Garner’s Durathror, Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser and Edgar Rice Burrough’s John Carter of Mars. Never felt much use for characters from other settings in any of my games, but still like the series for the shout-out it gives to several more or less famous fantasy authors.

Next is a review about Philmar’s The english Civil War another board game, that seemed, according to Tim Kask, to suffer under a very shoddy presentation. It follows a game variant for the Imperium board game by Roberto Camino and a review by D.Minch for the air warfare game MiG Killers (what a name).

I generally like Jerome Arkenberg’s Mythos of… series, but with Mythos of Africa, I think that he crammed too much stuff into one article. I’m by no way an expert for african myths and folklore, but I know enough about the variety of the african people to be fairly sure that you‘ can’t do this topic justice on two pages. Now Arkenberg doesn’t pretend otherwise, but still I think that there is a lot of potential wasted by putting all of this in one pantheon.

Dragon’s Bestiary; The Horast by Mary Lynn Skirvin presents us with a fairly unimpressing monster that is also called the whipper beast for the whip-like tail it possesses and that it can use as a weapon in combat.

In the comics section we have another hilarious issue of Fineous Fingers, in which his friends continue their escape from the evil wizard’s castle. And last but not least, Gary Gygax presents us another issue of the Bazaar of the Bizzare, this time with the Bag of Wind, which comes in 5 variants named after the four winds of greek mythology and their keeper Aeolus. This item should be well-known to everyone who has read Homer’s Odyssey.

Wow, this took me along time. I hope you won’t have to wait for the next installment of my review series as long as for this one.

[Review]Weekly Wonders-Drunkard’s Grimoire

Weekly Wonders – Drunkard’s Grimoire by Necromancers of the Northwest is a collection of 12 alcohol-based spells presented in the artistic style typical for those product (nice tome-like cover, a few black and white illustration inside the book.) As stated in the introduction, those should serve to extend that theme on spell-casters and is partly inspired by the Cult of Dionysos, while so far, mainly Monks and Barbarians had alcohol-themed archetypes. Also in the introduction is printed a list of official alcohol-based content. It seems not to be complete (a short Google search pointed me at the official combat trait „Accelerated Drinker“), but I still give bonus points for including that, because it is also stated that the part of the spells work in conjunction with those class features and archetypes, so to have this ready as a reference may come in handy. There’s also a hint at another Weekly Wonders Issue (Drunken Feats), that also might work with those spells, but as I don’t have that product (yet), I can’t say if that’s the case.

With two exceptions, the spells are cast at either a living creature or at a drink that has then to be imbibed for the spell’s effect to take place. In those cases, the drink in question can be drunk as part of the spell casting, so the casting time is unaffected by that (same goes for alchemists that might use such a spell). To give an impression, a short description of some of the spells follows:

Beer Goggles: impairs the sight of the drinker, who gains save bonus against gaze attacks, but also becomes more susceptible to diplomacy checks and charm effects.

Blackout: impairs the target’s ability to form memories, so they can’t remember what happened after.

Deadly Tankards: makes tankards into weapons. Also, you won’t spill the content while using them this way.

Valorous Whiskey: Drinker gains cold resistance and a morale bonus on attack rolls saves and some checks.

In the end, if I had one thing to criticize, then that some of the spells would require the GM to work with the player spell-caster (because there’s no use casting a spell on some drinks if the NPCs simply won’t drink them), which might be a con for players who don’t like such dependencies. On the other hand, as the GM, I immediately had some ideas how to use some spells even to introduce the players into a new adventure, so at least to me, they have a positive inspiration factor. And that you can use some of them as buff spells with (rum) flavor is something I really like very much. Mechanically, the levels of the respective spells seem right to me, and I wouldn’t have any problem if one of my players would want to use some of them. So if you like the theme of this product, I think it’s well worth it’s price and grant it full five stars.

[Review]Abbey of the Crusader Goddess

AotCGThe Abbey of the Crusading Goddess by Cian’s Basement Books comes in at 18 pages (1 cover page, 1 page ToC, so it’s basically 16 pages of actual content). Layout is simple, but clear, and the font size might be bigger than in other products but I found that it made reading the product quite easy, and I didn’t feel that it came at the cost of the content.

The product starts with a short description of the history and the location of the abbey. And while it’s described in a very general language, it’s easy to see that the inspiration for that probably came from Paizo’s Mythic AP. Still it’s generic enough that you can use it in any other setting easily. You can even reuse the 5 location hooks, giving a group of PCs a reason to travel there, which I think is a nice idea to have for a location. Then we learn about the local area, especially the village that has been built next to the abbey. There are several shops situated next to the abbey’s walls, and each of those gets a short paragraph including who owns it and what you can get there.

It follows a very detailed description of the five floors of the abbey and after that several statblocks detailing the abbey’s inhabitants, three for the more common members, then two important NPCs running the abbey as leaders. And last, there is a new feat, that grants the benefits of several orisons a number of times per day which is a nice way to grant a PC minor buffs without having the party cleric to cast them.

I haven’t talked about the maps yet. They are very simplistic in an old school kind of way, but also very clear and give you all the information you need and that are expanded on in the relevant test descriptions. Those maps cover everything I just talked about, from the abbey itself to every single floor.

All in all, I liked this product very much as it gives you the basics for such an abbey without adding to much fluff to it. This means that you might need to work a bit while you integrate it in any setting of your choice, but it also means that you won’t have to ignore too much (or anything at all) if you want to use it. It also has a special touch to it in that as written it is an abbey pretty much run and protected by women, but that doesn’t get forced upon the reader and could easily be changed if necessary. Though I like it very much this way.

So I’ll give it 3.5 out of five stars. And as this seems to be the first effort of a new publisher and as such, I think it has been well done, even if it isn’t on par with the more established 3PPs out there, as far as layout, artwork and maps are concerned, I don’t want too be to stingy with my stars so I’ll round up to 4 stars. If you have need of an abbey for your game and don’t mind to put a bit of work to add those fluff colours that integrate this into your setting, I think it’s well worth buying.

[Review]Rite Publishing’s 10 Kingdom Seeds: Hills

rp_tksh_coverThis is something which I should have posted a year ago. I was actually kinda surprised to find out that I hadn’t. SO without further ado:

 

Rite Publishing Presents 10 Kingdom Seeds: Hills by Liz Smith is part of a series providing the GM with short town descriptions she can easily plug-in into her game. These settlements are intended to be used as PC bases, as foundation stones to use with Pathfinder’s Kingdom Building Rules, but can as easily just be inserted into your setting, to fill empty regions between your big cities. And while they are written with hill terrain in mind, most of them aren’t so specific that they couldn’t be used with other terrain types as well.

The PDF consists of 9 pages, with 6 pages filled with actual content (plus cover, credits and OGL). Layout and page design is on a professional, high-level standard and I especially dig the artwork which would be worthy of any major publisher. Actual content are around half-page long descriptions of 10 settlements, ranging from Thorps to Villages. Each entry starts with the rule description (as seen first in Paizo’s Gamemastering Guide), followed by a short description of the look and the economy of each town. The last one being something I especially like as this is often the main reason why a settlement is founded at all and it immediately creates imaginery. One thing I also like is that those settlements are very varied as far as their main inhabitants‘ race is concerned. A chaotic good thorp inhabited by half-orcs can excellently serve to play with the player’s expectations (and if you’d rather have humans there, just change it, it’s no big deal)

Each entry also describes one or two important locations and concludes with some rumors about the settlement or its inhabitants which, while they sometimes feel like created with a random generator (which must not be a bad thing), still immediately add potential plot hooks and ideas to develop own adventures. I mean what could happen if a caravan with a holy sword comes to a village ruled by a CE cleric? (just to give an example). Here you find a village ruled by a bronze dragon, you have ghosts in the streets, cats stealing magic items (for what reason ever) or simply wandering hamlets made out of wheeled huts. So what this products really is successful at is to spark imagination without losing many words. The GM will have to work, if she wants to use these ideas, but she’ll have something to start with.

There are some things I have to criticize for honesty’s sake. The main criticism is directed at the rules section of each entry. As it seems, the designer forgot to include the modifiers from Table: Settlement Statistics into the settlement modifiers of each entry. There is also one major layout error in the Seahollow entry where the rules section has been divided by the text description. Minor mistakes (at least I think it wasn’t done intentionally) can be found in the rules sections for Starrywyn (Danger modifier should be -5 instead of +5) and Redhurst (being a thorp but using the magic item line for villages in the Marketplace section). I’m not the big rules guy, so this is nothing to put much importance in (maybe there are even reasons why there are so many items flowing around in Redhurst and why danger is higher in seemingly peaceful Starrywyn?) but if you’re using the settlement modifiers in actual play, you should be aware that you have to recalculate the modifiers according to the rules.

This all said, I can recommend this product. If you are building your own setting or if you’re using published settings, there will be empty places to fill and to do so, this product can be immensely helpful. This may not be obvious by the first look, but if you’re taking the time to really read the entries, you’ll find little, creativity sparking ideas helping you to really bring those settlements to live. So I’ll give it 4 out of five stars (a half star removed for the rules inconsistencies, another half star because some of the rumors seem a bit to random for my taste), because while not perfect, I’ll probably use all ten settlements in my homebrew (meaning that each of these settlements is worth way more than the 15 cents it costs, and that doesn’t even count in the splendid illustrations)

[Review]Weekly Wonders – Villainous Archetypes Vol. II

WW-VA IIVillainous Archetypes: Vol. II is the latest entry in Necromancers of the Northwest’s Weekly Wonders series. As you may guess from the title, it’s about archetypes usable for evil characters, but is equally usable for GMs to create evil NPCs. It’s an 8-page PDF with 4 pages of actual content (the rest is front and back cover, credits and license stuff) which contains 5 archetypes.

The first one being the Brutal Oppressor, a barbarian archetype. With this one, you get to Swap Trap sense against Bully, which gives you a real nice use out of your Intimidate class skill. Which you can further improve with the Gory Display rage power which gives you an additional bonus on Intimidate with each successful critical hit. The other rage powers presented are Grab by the throat, which is more useful for the grappling barbarian, and Stay Down, which gives you an increasing damage bonus against prone opponents. And then there’s Bloodlust, a class ability replacing Tireless Rage, which potentially increases the number of rounds the barbarian can rage per day.

The second is the Elemental Defiler, a nice nod to the Dark Sun defiler of old and an archetype for the Kineticist. This archetype replaces Internal Buffer by Drain Energy, ability that basically does the same but is a bit more versatile, because you can use it, when you need it, and that you don’t need to accept burn to fill your buffer. On the other hand, you must use the won energy directly in the same round and the action provokes AoOs. And at Level 19, Drain Creature replaces Metakinetic Master and allows you to ignore burn according to the points of Constitution damage your opponent suffers.

The Extortioner is an Investigator archetype prone to blackmail his victims with the secrets he finds out. The Extortioner gets the Secret Finder class ability which improves and expands his trapfinding skill while losing his 3rd level investigator talent. Guilt Sense us a quite intriguing class ability which replaces boring trap sense. At the start, the extortioner gets a bonus on Sense Motive checks. At higher levels he also can cast detect thoughts as a spell-like ability, and even later on, he can force his victims to spill out secrets they are ashamed about. At fourth level, the extortioner replaces his swift alchemy class ability with Lingering Threat which improves upon the use of his Intimitade skill.

It seems as if the designers of this archetype felt it being a bit too strong, though, so they added Stunted Inspiration, which subtracts 1 point of Inspiration from the Extortioners inspiration pool. Seems more of a cosmetic change because in standard games, he might not really need all those inspiration points anyway.

The next one is the Villainous Bloodline for the sorcerer. Without going too much in detail, I generally like the conceptual idea, though the mechanics make it too easy to use it with actually good aligned characters. Ok, to inflict damage while simultaneously healing yourself (as the first level bloodline power Draining Touch allows) may not sound very goodish. And to paralyze your opponents and use them for protection (Hostage Taker at level 15) may also not be a sign for a true hero (though the problem is with the protection part and you don’t need to do this). On the other hand, neither Getaway (which allows you to escape via dimension door from narrow situations) nor the capstone ability Master of Deception are particularly evil in design and might come in handy for good-aligned characters as well.

And then there’s Villaneous Defenses, which might be much more powerful when used by good-aligned characters than by true villains. Reason being that you get DR/good, which might not be as efficient for a villain against a heroic group of adventurers, but can really help the Hero when fighting evil opponents.

This all said: you surely can use this with evil characters (especially when used in adventures where the opponents might even more evil), so it doesn’t actually goes against the designers‘ promise.

Last but not least, we have the Eldritch Slavemaster. This Summoner archetype forces his Eidolon(s) into his service rather than building a link to them. Which may have consequences in case he loses control over the summoned eidolon according to Conjurer’s Leash the replacement of 1st level’s Life Link. As this ability also comes with some restrictions regarding the distance allowed between summoner and eidolon, the designers added Slavedriver, an ability that let’s the eidolon cause more damage with successful hits, but also causes damage to the eidolon itself. At 4th level Shield Ally is replaced by Slave Shield. This ability lets the summoner decrease any hit point damage he suffers, but causes the eidolon to suffer twice the damage that its‘ slavemaster avoids. At 12th Level, Greater Slave Shield decreases the damage the Eidolon suffers this way. At 14th level, Drain Summoned Monster (self-explaining) replaces Life Bond and at 16th level, Explosive Summons replaces Merge Forms and allows the Summoner to use his summoned monsters as living bombs. And at level 20, Slave Army replaces Twin Eidolon and allows the slavemaster tohave summoned monsters and eidolon simultaneously, He can even have more than one summon monster or Gate spell active.

Summary: From 4 out of 5, the only archetype I would consider to be outright evil is the Eldritch Slavemaster. The other 4 can be surely used by evil, but also by non-evil characters. I mention this because I’m on of those GMs who normally not allows evil characters at his table but would probably allow those archetypes when set into the fitting context. But that’s not the important part. The important part is that you can create great evil PCs with them, and you can also use them to create interesting NPCs for your PCs to oppose. So the product does what it says, and it is doing it (in my opinion) without arising balance issues. I also didn’t stumble about glaring editorial issues. Meaning that I didn’t find anything which lets me substract points from the end note (maybe a half star for my issues with the Villainous bloodline sorcerer, but that I’d be inclined to round up).

So, 5 stars out of 5 it is.

[Review]Otherworld Games – The Adventurer Princess

Well I’m still not quite sure what’s the best language to use in this blog, so I’ll do the next best thing and (if time allows) publish my entries in english and german. This time it’s about  aproduct I stumbled about by chance when looking for opportunities  to spend my money 😀

adv_princessChris A. Fields „Adventurer Princesses“ is a curious product, which made me a bit hesitant at first, but in the end, curiosity won.

The strangeness begins with the cover illustration, a manga-style princess in a blue ball gown and a golden crown on her head, which seems to fit in a grimm-style fairy tale but doesn’t seem too adventurous. I’m not too wrong with this interpretation but we’ll come back to that. The layout of the product is fine with and while I not particularly like all of the interior illustrations that’s certainly a matter of taste and it doesn’t take away from the product in any way.

The Strangeness continues with the categorization of the Adventurer Princess as a race (instead of a class as I had assumed first). So the product starts on the first three pages of this 16-page product with a description of the background of this „race“. Princesses typically aren’t of noble blood but most often maidens from the common folk who excel with courage, charisma and leadership abilities. And while they are humanoids with the human subtype, they have different racial traits; the have their own ability modifiers, start with an animal friend who functions like a wizard’s familiar, can choose between different skills they get bonuses for, and they get a 3x/day spell-like ability as a bard of the same level.

There are also some alternative racial traits offered, for example the Foreign Princess which enables you to play a non-human adventurer princess, or the Modern Princess to use in a modern setting (immediately Lara Croft comes to mind). For Xena-style characters, there is the Warrior Princess. Other alternatives modify the spell-like ability, the skill choices and look interesting and playable as well.

Next three pages are filled with 19 base character traits. For combat traits, we have the Air Princess (fly as class skill with +1 bonus on skill checks), the Dragon Slayer (bonus against dragon-type monsters) which I really like for how it plays with the normal stereotypes. The Duell Princess gets a magical one-hand weapon from the start and the Tomboy gets bonuses when competing with men (see my criticism at the end of the review).

With the magic traits we’ll finally land in the realms of Grimm fairy tales I alluded to at the start. Animal Helper makes Cinderella’s doves (or other animals) help with the daily chores and the Fairy-woven Finery obviously comes from the same source (the ball gown even changes back to normal at midnight), while the Little animated Buddy seems inspired by the Disney version of Beauty and the beast (I mean, come on, who wouldn’t want a two-legged candelabra as companion – or better yet- an animated snowman). The Ball-gown Parachute does exactly, what he says and the Elemental Birth Sign increases the damage of elemental spell damage. At last, there’s the Princess countersong, which enhances the respective bard’s class feature.

The social traits encompass the Centre of Courtly Life, the Fairest of them All (Mirror, Mirror…), the Orphan Princess (free Courtier’s Outfit), the Rat Princess (which prefers Intimidate over Diplomacy) and the Student of History, who gets bonuses on Knowledge (nobility) and Knowledge (history).

Finally, there are racial traits like the Fairie’s Blessing (Little Briar Rose says hello), the mysterious Night’s Princess (gets low-light vision) and the Sibling’s Bond which creates an especially narrow bond between Little Brother and Little Sister. This trait seems mechanically problematic, because it relates to the psion’s sense link ability which is known from 3.5 but has no official equivalent in Pathfinder. Now we have the Dreamscarred version, but as there’s no entry in the OGL section 15 and as this version not quite equals it’s predecessor, I assume that the author rather meant the older version. I guess one could easily adapt the Binder’s sense link ability but if so, that should be clarified in the text.

Now let’s return to the fairie tales realm with the racial feat Fairie Coach functioning like Disney’s Cinderella version (even transforming the animal friend into two coach horses). It gets even better at level 10 when you get two winged coach horses instead which enable the coach to soar through the air. The second racial feat, the Noble Equipage is a bit more down to earth and may be inspired by Joan of Arc. It’s mainly chivalric equipment you get (including a war horse or pony).

And then, there’s five and a half pages full of magic items. I won’t go into detail too much, but it’s 3 armors, 3 weapons and 10 wondrous items, some of them also inspired by Grimms‘ Fairie Tales. For example, there’s the Applewood Bow bestowing resistance bonuses against poisons, or the Princess‘ basket preparing fine meals from the raw ingredients put within. Another item, the Farie Dust, gold certainly takes its inspiration from Peter Pan (and I let you guess what it does 😉 )

Conclusion: I’m still not sure what to make out of this product. I can see the advantage in making the Adventure Princess a race rather than a class, because it enables the author to take inspiration from diverse sources; still, most members of this group are of human stock, so the concept doesn’t quite fit into this mechanic. Another thing is about the definition of this „race“. There’s basically no need for a category including extraordinary women in a game, which already defines an adventurer as an extraordinary person and makes it quite clear that men and women are absolutely equal in game terms. Which would make every female adventurer to an Adventurer Princess.

This said, I still like the product. I don’t think that children are it’s main target group but I guess that the fairie tale elements are perfect to introduce them into the game. I can easily imagine my daughter wanting to play an Adventurer Princess inspired by Frozen’s Elsa (especially if she is allowed to use an animated snowman as familiar). But even for me as a male adult, who likes to play female characters, the product contains quite some ideas to use in my own games. I mean; what’s not to love about Xena, Joan of Arc or Lara Croft inspired characters.

And even if you don’t like the Adventure Princess as a race (or even as a concept), the product still contains 16 pages full of rules material to use or be inspired from in your own game, and that for a real fair price. So 3 of 5 stars, because you still get useful material even if I have my doubts about the concept. Should you even like the concept, than add another star to my rating.