Beadle & Grimm’s Complete Character Chronicles

Hello my lovelies and welcome to a special product review! We’ve been fortunate enough to be sent copies of Beadle & Grimm’s Complete Character Chronicles for Pathfinder 2E—specifically, the Fighter and the Wizard versions. Note: both of these products are largely aiming to do similar things, so unless the review specifies either Fighter (for Complete Fighter Chronicle) or Wizard (for Complete Wizard Chronicle), this review applies to both products. These are handsome, hefty tomes over two hundred pages each, so let’s get cracking!
Fighter Cover 3.png

First Impressions​

To begin, each Chronicle is a sturdy book that hits the ideal balance between heft and portability, clocking in around 230-250 pages. The covers themselves are faux leather with the title and a symbol for the class embossed with a wonderfully contrasting color, and each book comes with two ribbon book marks and an elastic band to keep everything contained. The interior of each cover showcases a demonstration keep customized to the class in question—a walled keep for Fighter, and an arcane tower for Wizard.

Each of the major sections of each book (character sheet, class rules, spells for Wizard and equipment for Fighter) are marked by colored tabs on the margin of each page, which to me is a nice gesture but ultimately of limited use. An unfortunate by-product of the overall excellent production quality of the Chronicle is that the margins are colored to match the color of the binding. To my eye, this limits the visibility of the section markers from the page edge, a problem made worse by the fact that the first and last major sections are on different types of paper and thus their margins are completely colorless.

All this means that the colored markers are difficult at best to use by a quick look at the exterior edge of the page when the book is closed. I think an ideal version of this concept would see the edges of the page physically cut to allow the markers to stand out like true tabs, but I also cannot comment on the logistics or cost of such an alteration—although what else do you pay the Beadle & Grimm premium prices for if not for a premium product with premium attention to detail?
Wizard Cover 2.png

Character​

The first section of the book is for keeping track of all the thousands of bells and whistles that go into making a PF2E character. The character sheet is first and foremost and sprawls on for many pages, but thankfully each spread of pages generally focuses on a theme so you’re not doing too much page-hopping. This section is printed on high-quality dense paper stock meant for writing on, so it should stand up to some changes and such—just don’t forget to always use a pencil!

Wizards also get a few dedicated pages for frequently-summoned monsters, which I imagine will be a tremendous relief not for the actual player but for the GM and all the other players at the table. No more wasting time digging around in bestiaries and doing ad-hoc math—now it’s just behind your own character sheets! And, of course, Wizards also get extra space dedicated to their spells and descriptions. One slight issue I have with the Spells section is that each spell is divided by a row of tiny dots—which, given the current environment of tabletop games making spell cards for quick reference, certainly looks like perforations. But they’re not perforated, of course, you wouldn’t be tearing up a book this nice just to make some cards. I also find it suspect that sixth-level spells and first-level spells will require the same real estate to record their effects.

Towards the tail end of the Character section, the Chronicle starts making space for choices I’m less certain will see the same use for every character. Leadership gets a full two-page spread, with a page for all your minion names and a page for notable events—I can’t say I really expected Leadership to take such prominence in PF2E. The Pathfinder Society also gets some loving attention and real estate, although if you’re not running your character in organized play this section is largely wasted. I could also go both ways on how much space is allocated for Important People and Important Places—after all, how many truly important people will your character come across in their career, and yet how will they know who is and isn’t truly important?

Fighter Illustration 3.jpg

Class​

This section provides a concise summation of all the information in the Player’s Guide and Advanced Player’s Guide needed to play the class in question, including archetypes and extra feats. It’s printed on glossy paper stock, so you can tell just by touch that the writing section is over. A lovely little touch!

I also greatly appreciate that the splash art at the beginning of this section is more varied and evocative than simply showing the Iconic shouting into the void at a three-quarter profile—Valeros in Fighter is showing off martial skill and durability in his strong and powerful stance staring straight at the viewer, and Ezren in Wizard is pacing through the halls of some great house gathering information from long-lost and dangerous sources.

Beyond simply copying the base class text from the Player’s Guide and sprinkling in the extra options from the Advanced Player’s Guide, the Chronicle also trims down the Skills section of each book so that the focus is primarily on what the character in question will be using most often. Wizard titles the Skills section “Wizard Basics”, but all the truly weird and arcane information about casting and managing spells comes later, the “Basics” are limited to things that most people hand-wave anyway like writing spells into books. Fighter gets far more attention here, with rules for such mundane things as “earning an income” and “jumping” that Wizards clearly have no time for.

After Skills comes the unique mechanic that makes each class feel different from the others. For Wizards, that’s Focus Spells (which I find odd that they aren’t included next to or after Spells, but I guess having them nearer to the Feats from which they are acquired makes sense?) and for Fighters it’s General and Skill Feats. My goodness the fighters get so many tables of feats and such it takes me back to the bad old 3.0 days!

Archetypes come next (again, why not closer to the class feats section?), and then another section of What Makes This Class Neat. Wizards get familiars and extra familiar abilities, and Fighters get EVERY! NITTY! GRITTY! RULE! ABOUT! COMBAT! WHOOO! Fighters get information on Modes of Play (encounter, exploration, downtime) and table of conditions and a section on damage types and different things to do during exploration and downtime mode and actions to take in combat and triggering movement and how to count movement on a grid and cover and difficult terrain (AND ILLUSTRATIONS OF THESE THINGS), and goodness don’t the wizards need some of this too?

Wizard Illustration 3.jpg

The Nitty Gritty​

The last major section of rules content in each Chronicle focuses on what makes the meat-and-potatoes of each class work. Wizards finally get to look at all their spells, and Fighters get every piece of gear they could ever want (although, let’s be clear, Fighters really care about dem feats doe). Thankfully, Wizards also get a similar treatment for spell effects and areas and whatnot that Fighters got for cover and reach and the like, so a player with this should have no excuse for lighting up their Fighter friends in a fireball. Alas, there are so many spells even in the limited selection taken for the Chronicles that this section for Wizards is limited to largely just listing them out, although there is still space made for ritual spells towards the end.

Fighters, on the other hand, have some room to work with (the Fighter Chronicle is about 20 pages shorter than the Wizard Chronicle), so here the designers and writers at Beadle & Grimm’s have been given license to dress up what might otherwise be a boring pamphlet of gear tables in the guise of in-universe advertisements and item descriptions—delightful! Martials have more fun, you heard it here first.

Each book also ends with a Journal section, printed on the same matte paper that the Character section used, as it’s meant to be filled with any ancillary and supplementary notes you may have along your character’s career. Interspersed throughout the lines are whimsical illustrations and marginal notes from the various characters that have added their two cents throughout the book, as well as a number of empty square grids perfect for sketching out a map of whatever catacomb you’re exploring.

Finally, tucked into a small pouch on the back cover of each Chronicle is a BATTLE BOARD, a thick piece of glossy cardstock meant for dry-erase markers, with sections for those little numbers that like to change in a big way during encounters—hit points, prepared spells, consumables, and the like. I spent quite a bit of my read of the Chronicles concerned about how well the paper stock would hold up to repeated writing and erasing, and I am relieved to find that the good folks at Beadle & Grimms have had the same concerns enough to provide this Battle Board.

Final Thoughts​

At the end of the day, the question for all supplemental TTRPG products is, “Is it worth it?” If you get a Chronicle, you’re paying 40 USD (before shipping) for what is essentially a single character sheet and excerpts from books you likely already own. Two books, to be precise—and given the rate at which Paizo sneaks character options into just about every product they put out, this is likely to feel incomplete sooner rather than later. Will the high-quality paper stock stand up to your eraser and how you use it? The Battle Board will certainly prolong its lifetime, but for now only time will tell.

There is an incredible amount of utility, value, and craftsmanship poured into each Chronicle. If you expect to have a character survive and make use of the majority of your Chronicle (and the PFS might be your best option for spindly wizards), or if you expect the Chronicle to survive multiple characters, then the Complete Chronicle for whatever your preferred class is absolutely worth the price of admission.
 
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Ben Reece

Ben Reece

Rabulias

the Incomparably Shrewd and Clever
Even though I don't play Pathfinder, I would be interested to see an example screenshot or two of the interiors. I always love looking at character sheets and seeing new ways of organizing and presenting character info.

Also, anyone else think it's odd that B&G has not done something like this for D&D 5E? Maybe they are working on it? Or did I miss it?

Edit: The B&G site has a fair number of interior pictures here: Character Chronicles — Beadle & Grimm’s
 

aco175

Legend
I see this is just Pathfinder.
A couple 5e ones I seen are this one on Amazon. it is 14 pages folded in half and about $10.00
1644341353263.png


This one is from a Kickstarter and is 196 half pages and $20.00
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There are a few more I saw with a quick Google search with some 1/4 size pocket notebooks and some more for campaign planning. There are also tons of print on demand things.

My main problem with such a good looking product like the OP is talking about is that it is just for a single character. This may lead to other discussions on PC death and keeping them alive since I have a book on my character and he died at 2nd level.

$40.00 for a book on my PC may be ok for some which is typically those that can afford the Beedle and Grimm line. I kind of wish I had something for all my PCs from when I started. Maybe several sheets in a booklet with names and the party along with some notes to look back on over time.
 



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