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Thursday, 20th October, 2011, 01:40 AM #1
Defender (Lvl 8)
Review of Goblins of Golarion by Paizo
Players wanting to make characters based upon monster races is one of those time-honored traditions in fantasy role-playing that tends to drive many game masters quietly mad. On one hand, as the GM, you want your player to have a great time in your game, playing a character concept they really want to enjoy. And on the other hand, you have the nightmare of trying to figure out how to game master a campaign that will accommodate a heroic monster adventurer, without derailing many of the principles of right and wrong, good and evil, civilized society, and what being a monster really is.
From as far back as Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, there has been plenty of discussion, in sourcebooks and magazine articles, on how best to deal with a monster player character, and how to deal with monster characters in a campaign. So it is certainly no surprise that Paizo’s Pathfinder, with its roots firmly planted in “old school” D&D, would have to address the issue of monster player-characters for its own brand of fantasy role-playing. This past August, Paizo released another installment of their Pathfinder Companion series, offering new role-playing options for players and source material for game masters in their campaign world of Golarion. This release, Goblins of Golarion, takes on goblin characters in a Pathfinder game, both PCs and NPCs, and offers options to further bring this race of monsters to life in the campaign setting.
Goblins of Golarion
- Designers: James Jacob, Hal McLean, and Richard Pett
- Illustrations: Andrew Hou (cover), Jeffrey Lai, Tyler Wapole, Kevin Yan, Andrew Hou (interior)
- Publisher: Paizo Publishing
- Year: 2011
- Media: Softbound (32 pages)
- Price: $10.99 (on sale from [ame="http://www.amazon.com/Pathfinder-Player-Companion-Goblins-Golarion/dp/1601253621/ref=as_li_tf_mfw?&linkCode=wey&tag=neurogames-20"]Amazon.com[/ame] for $8.79)
Goblins of Golarion is a new Pathfinder Player Companion supplement, offering new options for creating and role-playing goblin player-characters and non-player characters in the Pathfinder game system. The supplement has detailed descriptions of goblins and their lifestyles, as well as culture, religion, and other background material useful to role-playing. In addition, Goblins of Golarion has new traits and feats for goblin characters, new pieces of goblin equipment, and even a selection of spells invented by goblins.
The production quality of Goblins of Golarion is exceptional, with a great
layout and incredible writing. The authors convey a considerable amount of information in the supplement, and do it in a way that makes the book a treat to read and use in a Pathfinder game. On the downside, however, the table of contents is fairly rudimentary, and there is no index in the book, but given the page count of Goblins of Golarion, it really is not too big a problem for the reader to find the information they need. I did like that the authors do include a table of important goblin racial traits and deities in the inside cover of the book, making for a handy reference sheet when making goblin characters.
The artwork in the book is first rate, showing goblins in all manner of activities as described in the supplement. Despite them being evil as all get out, there is something inherently “cute” about the way the artists draw these nasty little humanoids, and the artwork alone makes them an intriguing race to include as both NPCs and PCs alike.
Goblins of Golarion
The Goblins of Golarion Player Companion is divided into six sections, each giving details on certain aspects of making a goblin character. The first section, conveniently entitled Goblins of Golarion, comprises more than half the pages of the book, and discusses many aspects of goblin culture and philosophy. The authors introduce the reader to various aspects of goblin personality with charming lyrical rhymes such as “Stab the gnome! Spike the Man! Slice the dwarf! Light the pan!” to introduce a discussion on the goblin warfare, and “Fire is pretty! Fire is neat! Hook the orphan! Burn his feet!” brings up the passion that goblins have for setting things on fire.
The section also includes new pieces of goblin specialized gear such as vicious caltrops (as if the standard ones aren’t nasty enough), fire carriers (self-explanatory device to assist little goblin arsonists), and a tossglove (used for throwing nasty things, like poisonous snakes or scorpions, into combat). The first section rounds up with a discussion of the roles of various player-character classes in goblin society, and a selection of specialized traits for use with goblin characters, like those offered in the Pathfinder Advanced Players Guide.
The second section in Goblins of Golarion details the numerous goblin tribes, and offers a map of where these tribes operate around the Inner Sea region. Each of the tribes have a different flavor and nature, based upon the type of region and climate they inhabit, and often have odd powers which can make them an unexpected threat to player-character heroes. For instance, the Spelleater tribe which lurk in the Mana Wastes have developed an innate spell resistance, while the Bigbarb tribe attack ships in dugout canoes armed with spikes on the front like goblin-propelled torpedoes. It was interesting to see the variety of quirks that each tribe had, and is certainly good adventure fodder for any GM wanting to incorporate goblins into their campaign.
The next three sections, each rather short in length, offer a range of new character building options for use when creating goblin characters. The first here was labeled Combat, and offered ten new goblin-specific feats to add more flavor to characters, whether NPC or PC. Feats with names like Ankle Biter, Burn! Burn! Burn!, and Lead from the Back were not only descriptive, but played upon the goblin culture and philosophy described in the first section of the supplement. The next section entitled Faith discusses four goblin gods and their domains, nature, and chosen weapons for use with designing goblin clerics. There are also four new subdomains described here: Arson, Flotsam, Slavery, and Torture. Finally, Magic discusses three new goblin spells – blot, fire sneeze, and limp lash – as well as an assortment of goblin magic items, such as the explosion pocket and the scavenger’s stone. As with the feats and subdomains, these magical spells and items are well designed for pairing up with the various aspects of goblin culture and history, as discussed at the beginning of the supplement.
Goblins of Golarion wraps up with a couple pages headed as Social, but offers some solid advice on how to integrate a goblin player-character into a Pathfinder campaign. Not surprisingly, for most heroic campaigns, it is recommended that a goblin be an aberration to his own society, and most likely an outcast – the character is heroic, after all. Of course, just because you’re dealing with a hero doesn’t mean that the character isn’t a goblin, and there are some ideas on how to add in some interesting goblin tendencies that won’t derail an adventuring campaign. The section wraps up with some variant rules on handling Favored Class bonuses with a goblin character, and what sort of bonuses would be appropriate based upon the class chosen for the player-character.
Overall Score: 4.0 out of 5.0
Goblins of Golarion is an awesome little supplement for GMs and players who want to add more goblin fun to their Pathfinder campaigns. Not only is it useful in creating goblin player-characters, as one would expect from a Pathfinder Player Companion, but it also has tons of great fluff and crunch for GMs to use while creating goblin NPCs, or for designing adventures with goblins as the major antagonist. While the supplement is very fluff-heavy, the crunchy parts are well worth the read, and offer some new content for PCs and NPCs alike. Personally, I think this is one of those supplements that transcends edition, and is worth recommending to gamers playing not only earlier versions of D&D, but also D&D 4E as well! Sure, not all the crunch is going to work for 4E gamers, but there is some great fluff here to add to almost any campaign world that has goblins, not to mention some of the traits and feats can quite useful in creating goblin encounters and villains. The only downside of the book is the full retail price, which is a bit steep for a very softbound book. But it’s still worth considering, regardless of what kind of Pathfinder/D&D you play, especially if you can get it with a little discount.
So until next review… I wish you Happy Gaming!
Editor’s Note: This Reviewer received a complimentary copy of this product from which the review was written.
Grade Card (Ratings 1 to 5)
- Presentation: 4.5
- - Design: 4.5 (Looked great, fun to read.)
- - Illustrations: 4.5 (Made me want to play a goblin!)
- Content: 4.25
- - Crunch: 4.0 (Pretty sparse, but what was there was excellent!)
- - Fluff: 4.5 (More goblin fluff than you could possibly know what to do with!)
- Value: 3.0 (A little steep for a softbound 32-page book.)
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