It was a good Christmas for my Pathfinder campaign, as I got two of the new game master-friendly books released by Paizo — Ultimate Equipment and NPC Codex — and one player-friendly book, the Advanced Players Guide.
I’ve had my eye on Ultimate Equipment since it came out; one of my frustrations with my Second Darkness campaing has been the ho-hum nature of the magic items. I’ve crafted a few of my own — Winter, an intelligent cold iron long sword that dreams of dominating the Northlands — is one. I’ve added few other unique items here and there, but what I longed for was a book that pulled together the best of the quirky magical enhancements we saw in D&D, but were largely missing from the core Pathfinder rules.
Ultimate Equipment fixes that. It adds weapon qualities like “guardian”, which lets a hero transfer some of a weapon’s bonus to saving throws and “grayflame”, which lets clerics and paladins channel some of their positive (or negative) energy into weapon bonuses. That’s the sort of thing I was looking for — not because I want to complicate my games, but because I like magic items to be more than just another +1 dagger. Addding additional capabilities makes them unique, and that’s what Ultimate Equipment is all about. It helps that the book’s also packed with all manner of mundane equipment as well; from 10′ poles to whips to nets to tinderboxes, the book lives up to its name.
I’ve relied on the generic non-player characters from the GameMastery Guide for on-the-fly villains, henchmen, and allies. It’s a decent resource, but whole there are a few dozen characters, there’s not as much diversity there as I’d like. The NPC Codex is a game master’s dream, giving full buildouts of the nine base classes (fighter, cleric, rouge, wizard, etc.), the core prestige classes (arcane archer, duelist, loremaster, etc.), NPC classes (adept, aristrocrat, expert, etc) and the iconic characters from the Pathfinder campaign setting (Amiri the Barbarian, Lem the Bard, Kyra the Cleric, etc.). It’s exactly the sort of NPC fodder my campaign needed, and I plan on using it every chance I get.
The Advanced Player’s Guide was part of the second wave of core Pathfinder books. We’ve been using parts of the book for the last few years, most notably hero points, but also a handful of feats and spells. The tipping point for me though was playing a paladin/inquisitor in a friend’s campaign; that class has a lot of class-specific abilities that you can use on the fly, and while the PDF is ok, it’s easier to have the physical book in front of you.
Taken together the three books add a heck of a lot to my campaign, and should give me that creative boost I need to get through the back half of Second Darkness.