Game review: Pathfinder RPG villains codex and villain pawns add flair to storytelling

Posted April 14

A well-developed villain can add just the right amount of pizzaz to movies, books and television. Roleplaying games are no exception. Paizo publishing has created a book of antagonists for the Pathfinder RPG dripping with great fantasy art.

The Pathfinder RPG Villain Codex is designed to give gamemasters a book full of pregenerated and fleshed out villains that can be dropped into any campaign or adventure in seconds. The book contains 254 pages, full-color villains and retails for $44.99.

The book breaks the list of villains into villainous organizations for ease of use. Need a villain for a thieves guild encounter? No problem. What about a villain from the political aristocracy? The codex has you covered.

Here is a list of all 20 organizations in the book: arcane society, brutal slavers, carnival troupe, corrupt guard, cruel musketeers, death cult, demon knights, diabolical church, fang monastery, merchant caravan, merry outlaws, nature's scourge, regal court, ruthless brigands, savage marauders, scandalous pirates, secret society, sinister cult, slayer's guild and thieves guild.

Each villain entry contains all the necessary information on experience points, offense stats, defense stats and detailed tactics. A wonderful piece of artwork also decorates the page and as is said, "A picture paints a thousands words."

But the book is more than just a set of pretty pictures and villain statistics. There is also information on the criminal organization’s history and background along with plot hooks to get players involved in a deeply immersive narrative.

There are new rules in all of the 20 villain sections containing cool new feats, unique spells and magic items. For example, what would an encounter with the thieves guild be without full details on the villain's loaded shell game cups (page 236).

A personal favorite part of this book that is helpful for gamemasters is a full set of premade encounter groups. This saves so much time in preparation for game night and will get a campaign seeded with exciting new antagonists in no time at all.

For example on page 185 of the codex, there are a list of encounters involving savage marauders. If a game master needed a leader of a band of destructive shock troops, he or she could access the encounter page and be referred to an exact page number in the book where an appropriate villain would be listed. It even includes experience-point-based ratings to make sure the heroes don't get overpowered.

An example of one of the new feats detailed in the book comes from the merchant's caravan section (page 115). Details are given there for a feat called "craft shoddy item." This allows a character with the feat to craft items at a fifth of the cost but run the risk of destroying the materials in the process.

But wait that's not all …

Instead of just looking at the stunning artwork of all the villains in the Pathfinder Villain Codex, gamers can literally make them leap onto the tabletop with the supporting product Pathfinder Pawns: Villains Codex box.

The first thing that gamers will notice after purchasing this item is the heft of the box. These cardboard miniatures are thick and durable. The box contains plate after plate of cool, full-color miniatures. The creative magicians at Paizo created more than 240 beautifully illustrated cardboard pawns to accompany the villain codex book. Some miniatures are even presented with multiple copies so a gamemaster can create a small army or group.

To use the book and miniatures, a gamemaster finds an appropriate villain for his or her game in the Villains book and locates the matching miniatures in the Pathfinder Pawns: Villains Codex Box. For example if a gamemaster wants to bring a cruel musketeer villain such as a dragoon (page 61) to the tabletop, he or she can access the pawn box, find the minature and punch out a cool, sturdy cardboard miniature that looks exactly like the one on the pages of the Villains Codex.

After purchasing these products, all gamers need is a good map and some story text. Then a game of Pathfinder will come to life. The cost for the Pathfinder Pawns: Villains Codex box is $44.99 and is sold separately from the book. To find out more about the Pathfinder RPG and more of Paizo Publishing's roleplaying products, go to the Paizo website.



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