Ryu’s Paizo Subscription Musings

Posted on March 19th, 2016 by Ryu Sheng |

I got up this morning to a rather pleasant surprise, my Paizo order had arrived! In this order were my three subscriptions, and a set of dice i’d ordered. The subscriptions i have at the minutes are, Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Pathfinder Player Companion, Pathfinder Adventure Path.

Before i start breaking down the delivery lets talk about each subscription:

Pathfinder Adventure Path.

The Pathfinder Adventure Path is Paizo Publishing’s monthly 96-page, perfect-bound, full-color softcover book printed on high-quality paper. Each volume is brought to you by the same staff which brought you Dragon and Dungeon magazines for over five years, and each volume contains an in-depth Adventure Path scenario, stats for about a half-dozen new monsters, and several support articles meant to give Game Masters additional material to expand their campaign. Because Pathfinder uses the Open Game License, it is 100% compatible with the world’s most popular fantasy roleplaying game.

Paizo releases Adventure Paths in six-volume arcs, meaning each year of Pathfinder will include two complete Adventure Paths.

If you’re looking at getting any subscription from Paizo i recommend you start here. Taking the content out of the equation the additional benefits you get make it a mandatory (IMO) first pick up. Firstly when you subscribe you immediately get a 30% price reduction, so a normal Adventure Path runs to $24.99, when you subscribe it’s $17.49. Bear in mind that with Adventure Path’s you’re really going to have to buy all six chapters of the story to get the full thing, so that runs to $149.94 individually or $104.94, that’s a saving of $45 of the six modules. I don’t know about you but that’s a good saving.

Additionally you also get what’s called Pathfinder Advantage, a 15% discount on all products on paizo.com, excluding non-paizo downloadable’s. But this  does include other subscriptions as well! So as i said, those benefits alone make for a reason to buy this subscription.

However do bear in mind that you will still have to pay shipping, and the discount doesn’t get applied to the shipping.

Pathfinder Campaign Setting

The world of Pathfinder comes alive in the Pathfinder Campaign Setting series of sourcebooks and game accessories! Venture across the borders of Varisia into the wilds of Golarion or explore the far reaches of the world with guide books and hardcover sourcebooks aimed at enhancing your Pathfinder Roleplaying Game experience. The Pathfinder Campaign Setting line is the only place to get all this great material, and the only way to ensure that you get all of it is to start an ongoing Pathfinder Campaign Setting subscription today!

This one has varying costs depending on the current price of the volume being released. So there’s no set price. Though i have to admit some of the material they offer here makes me wonder about it. For example coming up in July is the Map Folio for Hell’s Vengeance, the Adventure Path currently in the subscription. Sure this would have been better included in the AP subscription rather than here?

Pathfinder Player Companion

Pathfinder Player Companion is an invaluable resource for Pathfinder Roleplaying Game players and Game Masters. Each monthly 32-page Pathfinder Player Companion contains several player-focused articles exploring the volume’s theme as well as short articles with innovative new rules for all types of characters, as well as traits to better anchor the player to the campaign.

I actually like these, they take an individual aspect of the game and focus on it, expand it and give new ideas to be used in the game. Though i have to admit the individual price for this seems a little high to me, for what they are.

One final thing to note, and also a big bonus, is that if you’re subscribe all the physical books give you a free PDF, immediately after the book is shipped. Which if (like me) you’re in the UK or EU, it means you have immediate access to the material while it spends 2 weeks shipping it’s way to you. Which saves you more money and can also feel the shipping hit is actually less 😀

While i genuinely like my subscriptions, and think they’re worth the money, it’s a QOL and EOL thing. Now it’s set up i don’t have to do anything. However if you’re in the UK or EU it’s actually cheaper to buy the books through Amazon. For example the Player Companion worked out at around £13 (including shipping), where as on Amazon it’s available for £5.13 (excluding shipping. However the benefits listed above round it out to being a good value prospect. So long as the exchange rate doesn’t bite you in the ass, and you’re bank charges for international purchases aren’t crippling either.

So, lets break down the order i got and talk about them!

QWSSPAT37_500Title: Pathfinder Dice Set: Carrion Crown
Price: Single: $13.00 / Sub Discount: $9.94
Product Code: QWSSPAT37
Links: Paizo / Amazon UK

Paizo Publishing and Q-workshop are proud to bring you the 100%-official Pathfinder: Carrion Crown Adventure Path dice. These masterfully crafted dice feature silver engravings on black polyhedrons.

What can i say, they’re dice 😀 I picked these ones purely because they were the first ones that came up, and i needed a set as i lost mine. It includes: one d20, one d12, two d10 (00-90 and 0-9), one d8, one d6, and one d4

PCGB&STitle: Pathfinder Player Companion: Blood of Shadows
Publisher: Paizo
Link: Paizo store / Amazon UK
Type: Player Companion Guide
Availability: Paperback/Digital
Price: Single: $14.99; Sub: $12.74(inc. Free PDF); PDF: $10.49
ISBN: 978-1-60125-820-5

Synopsis:

Embrace the shadows! Whether from the subterranean wilds of the Darklands or otherworldly realms of absolute shadow, heroes can rise from the darkest places. Pathfinder Player Companion: Blood of Shadows explores the strange paths and subtle abilities empowered by darkness. Discover the secrets of drow, fetchlings, and wayangs—races infused with lightless powers. Within this player-friendly volume are options and secrets for characters of every class, including a penumbral psychic discipline, shadowy rogue talents, and an oracle mystery that plumbs the depths of darkness.

Inside this book, you’ll find:

• Expanded favored class options and alternate racial traits for three races with strong ties to darkness and shadow: drow, fetchlings, and wayangs.

• Shadow-themed archetypes, including the dusk knight, the gloom chymist, the shadow walker, and the umbral scion, as well as shadowy feats, spells, and magic items.

• Shadowborn traits available to members of many races, representing characters with just a trace of shadow in their blood.

As i said above i find the print cost of this $15, to be a tad high, especially since you’re only getting 30pages (in this release) of content, which is actually on the same level as the Pathfinder Comics, which sell for $5. Although the content of the Player Companion is actually really good, it’s price is a tad much. With the Pathfinder Advantage it’s dropped to $12.74, which is more acceptable IMO.

Quality wise i’m blown away, this is most definitely a solid High Quality release, as all of my books seem to be!. The book itself is A4 sized and runs to 36 pages, with 30 pages of actual content. The cover is high gloss card that is both firm and flexible, which means it’s going to last a good while. As an added benefit of the high gloss card it is ‘wipe clean’ to a degree, which is a god send if you’re a CON goer.

The pages again surprised me, no low quality paper here! (I’m looking at you Wizards of the Coast!!). Some nice glossy pages that are bright white and both look and feel amazing in the hand. Though its not ‘wipe clean’ it is durable and should be able to handle a bit of a battering.

Now, lets talk about content, it’s genuinely pretty good, with some interesting elements.

The cover (the above image) was done by Kiki Moch Rizky, and frankly i think it’s really good. There’s a clean version of the art (without text) on the inside back cover.

The inside front cover includes some sweet artwork and includes information on how the saying degree’s of light work, Bright, Normal, Dim, Darkness. Always nice to have core information like that readily handy, instead of having to hunt through the core books for it.

I loved the introduction, the scene setting is really well written and gets you into the feel for the setting and the information to come. Following that you get a bit of information on different types of Shadow Origins, six in total. Although the blurb is a little sparse, little more than a paragraph, it’s enough to get you started. However i do feel it’s a little ‘sparse’ and you’ll most likely end up using other guides to help you as well. Which isn’t a issue per say, but for something labeled a ‘player companion’ i’d of liked to have seen a bit more information. Especially if you’re a newcomer to the game.

From then on it’s a wealth of information, split into several sections: The Taint of Shadow, Transformed by Shadow, Transformed by Light, and Transformed by the Darklands. Each section has new racial traits and feats and talents relevant to it’s specific section. Alongside you get some rather sweet artwork. Transformed by Shadow also includes a new Archetype: Shadow Walker (Rogue)

Following this we have four new Archetypes being introduced, Dusk Knight (Paladin), Gloom Chymist (Alchemist), Umbral Scion (Sorcerer). No idea why the rogue one was split off rather than in the Archetype section like the others, but they all contain all the information you need to play that class. Reading through them they all sound interesting and look fun to play.

The rest of the pages contain information on fighting in the dark, tactics, Illumination Magic Items, Shadowcraft Weapons, Shadow Feats, Shadow Magic Items, Penumbral and Shadow Spells.

So all told it’s a fairly solid bit of information, but you have to bare in mind that these aren’t really stand alone guides. Which I have to admit i was thing when i first got it. These are ‘additional’ or ‘instead of’ bits. So you’ll still need other material to build your character. I was initially a bit disappointed by the content, but admittedly that was because i was looking for it to be something it’s not.

Overall the material is really good, and if you’re planning to play a rogue and want to spice it up a bit, this is a good start. However, i would say go for the PDF over the print, especially if you’re outside of the USA, as a solo purchase, but it’s a good pick up as an ‘add-on’ purchase. 

PZO9289Title: Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Darklands Revisited
Publisher: Paizo
Link: Paizo store / Amazon UK
Type: Campaign Setting
Availability: Paperback/Digital
Price: Single: $22.99; Sub: $19.54(inc. Free PDF); PDF: $15.99
ISBN: 978-1-60125-819-9

Synopsis:

Terrors from Below. Beneath the Inner Sea region stretches a vast network of echoing caverns, serpentine tunnels, and subterranean lakes, their lightless reaches haunted by creatures too strange for most surface dwellers to imagine. This underground world is known as the Darklands, and to those brave enough to venture into its shadows, it offers incomparable treasures and mind-warping dangers. Delve into the secrets of this subterranean realm’s residents with details on their ecologies, societies, campaign roles, and more.

Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Darklands Revisited provides everything you need to hunt or befriend the denizens of the depths, including creatures such as:

• Demon-worshiping drow and their ceaselessly scheming houses.

• Gray-skinned duergar slavers, shunned by all other dwarves for their worship of an evil god.

• Gugs, the four-armed giants of the Dreamlands’ tunnels.

• Intellect devourers, who remove victims’ brains and wear their bodies.

• Munavris, albino psychics who fight against evil in the deepest depths of the Darklands.

• Degenerate morlocks, who hunt humans even as they worship them.

• Wormlike neothelids, plotting to bring their fell gods to Golarion.

• Troglodytes, the fallen scions of a vast reptilian empire.

• Vampiric, daemon-crafted urdefhans, eager to spread death and pain.

• Fungal vegepygmies and the carnivorous mold that births them.

This volumes was both everything I was expecting, but also a bit lacking. Despite that though it is great value for money.

Once again we have the same high gloss finish covers, and high quality paper. If there’s one thing Paizo have don’e right it’s the paper!

The cover art this time is from Igor Grechanyi and it’s pretty sweet. Content wise it’s not quite what I was expecting, or rather it’s a light version of what I was expecting. It covers a number of ‘dark’ dwellers: Drow, Duergar, Gug, Intellect Devourer, Morlock, Munarvi, Neothelid, Troglodyte, Urdefhan, and Vegepygmy.

So you’ve a got a good selection of races covered in the book, with a good bit of depth to them. You get a bit of information on things such as the ecology and society, what role they’d play in your campaign, and the sorts and amounts of treasures. Next there\s a section on how they fit into the world of Golarion Finally it’s wrapped up with an NPC of that society to use. All told, honestly this is a great books for DM’s to use to help build their dark campaigns, frankly it’s almost perfect.

For me, what I found it lacking was ideas and thoughts on the actual Parklands themselves, a map or two showing major underworld towns and cities would be awesome. The only information this book really gives you is on the races themselves, which is great, but, for me, felt lacking.

For me, when I see a title saying ‘Campaign Setting’ I’m expecting enough material in and of itself, to set a campaign in that area. So see Campaign Setting: Darkland’s Revisted, I was expecting enough material on the Parklands to run a campaign; sadly thats not what you get. Again, just like in the previous book I may (probably) read to much into the title and hyped it up to be more than it actually is. Which is a shame, because what material is given in this book really makes me want more of the same.

I will say however that the book is great value for money, was a joy to read, and I don’t regret my purchase.

PZO90103.jpgTitle: Pathfinder Adventure Path #103: The Hellfire Compact (Hell’s Vengeance 1 of 6)
Publisher: Paizo
Link: Paizo store / Amazon UK
Type: Adventure PAth
Availability: Paperback/Digital
Price: Single: $24.99; Sub: $17.49(inc. Free PDF); PDF: $17.99
ISBN: 978-1-60125-818-2

Synopsis:

All Hell Breaks Loose!

The Hell’s Vengeance Adventure Path begins with “The Hellfire Compact,” an exciting new adventure in which the players take the roles of evil characters in the diabolical empire of Cheliax! A paladin of Iomedae and knight-errant of the Glorious Reclamation comes to the town of Longacre, inspiring the citizens to join the uprising against the Thrice-Damned House of Thrune. First as amoral mercenaries, then as retainers of the wicked archbaron of Longacre, the evil adventurers must move quickly to put down the insurgency and keep the town from falling to the knight’s rebellion.

This volume of Pathfinder Adventure Path launches the Hell’s Vengeance Adventure Path and includes:

• “The Hellfire Compact,” a Pathfinder adventure for 1st-level characters, by F. Wesley Schneider.

• A gazetteer of Longacre, the small town in Cheliax that serves as the setting for this adventure, by F. Wesley Schneider.

• Details on the Glorious Reclamation, a knightly order dedicated to Iomedae that sparks the events of this campaign, by Rob McCreary.

• Magical mayhem and ill tidings from afar in the Pathfinder’s Journal, by Josh Vogt.

• A bestiary of frightful new monsters, by Paris Crenshaw, Mikko Kallio, and Jason Keeley.

This was the first of the three to take my expectations, scrunch them up and throw them out the window and tell me, ‘not even close mate’.

Frankly out of the three books I’ve gotten this delivery, this is the one I’ve spent the most time on and have had the most fun reading. This time around it’s because I underestimated what I was getting, mixing up Modules and Adventure Paths, and boy was I happy to be put right!

I loved that one of the first sections in the book is titled: Don’t be a Jerk. Because lets face it we’ve all played games where people have felt being evil meant you had to be a jerk. I like how it lays out some basic information and gives advice for GM on how to set this up properly.

It then sets off on the adventure, taking a party from lvl1 through to lvl4, roughly. The book contains almost all the information and maps needed for the adventure. I did notice on a few occasions it would reference something else, such as a bestiary, and found myself wondering why they hadn’t included this information, since it would at most have bumped the page count by 1, possibly 2, which doesn’t seem that much.

Reading through the AP and finding you need to have another book is a bit irksome. And while it’s true you can access all the information for free through the PRD, I just feel it would be a nice touch to have all the information on hand. If nothing else it would make the GM’s job easier

I loved reading through the PA and playing it out in my mind as I go, doing so I realised that the AP is pretty lengthy. I figured it would take a good 3 or 4 sessions to play through, and that’s if we went  fast.

The depth of information it contains (which I won’t go into for spoiler reasons) means that you, or your GM, can make his parties life very interesting.

What’s more the story we have is exceptionally well written, which is hard to do with evil stories I’ve found.  The AP is easy to follow and lead, which is great, it’s good to see the writers giving focus and support to both newcomers and veterans alike.

If you’re subscribed or have bought the PDF version you are also give a PDF, interactive map, which would be awesome if it worked. Sadly none of my maps have worked. When it comes to using them on my iPad results in a blank page, and using them on my mac results in a non interactive map. No idea why sadly, since they seem to work fine on my PC, but when it comes to doing AP’s or any PnP I prefer to use my iPad or MacAir for convenience. Hopefully this gets fixed soon.

Update: Apparently this is because Mac’s and iPads can’t handle the interactive maps, even if you use the recommended Adobe Software.

So, all told was it worth subscribing? At the minute not really sure, the problems I have with the Campaign Setting and Player Companion may be resolved as time goes by and material relevant to my play style, ideas, and wants comes out. Not all things that are in a game as deep and diverse as Pathfinder are going to be to your tastes.

The Adventure Path subscription however was well worth it! While I’ve not played the new Hell’s Vengeance yet, I’ve been playing through Hell’s Rebels, the prequel to this one, and it’s been a blast so far! Playing as an evil guy is something I’m seriously looking forward to getting my head around!

So I think for now out of my 3 subscriptions I’m definitely going to be keeping the Adventure Path one. I’ll carry on with the other two for a few more months before I decide.

However overall, for this part 1 of March’s delivery, I’m impressed. Both the quality of the books and the content is really high, I can’t deny that (nor will I!!)

Finally, just as an aside I figured I’d do a side by side comparison price wise for this delivery, let me know in the comments if it’s worthwhile doing for future posts.

Note: The Paizo prices include my 15% discount for being a Adventure Path subscriber.

Paizo

  • Campaign Setting: Darklands Revisited – $19.54
  • Player Companion: Blood of Shadows – $12.74
  • Adventure Path 103 – Hells Vengeance 1 – $17.49
  • Dice Set: Carrion Crown – $9.94

Total= $59.71

Shipping= $16.49

Grand Total= $76.20 (£54.14+£2.61 surcharge*)

Amazon

  • Campaign Setting: Darklands Revisited – £14.88 (currently on back order)
  • Player Companion: Blood of Shadows – £10.99
  • Adventure Path 103 – Hells Vengeance 1 – £15.90
  • Dice Set: Carrion Crown – £7.99

Total= £49.76

Shipping= £2.90

Grand Total= £52.66

Amazon Market Place – Book Depository**

  • Campaign Setting: Darklands Revisited – £12.08
  • Player Companion: Blood of Shadows – £8.18
  • Adventure Path 103 – Hells Vengeance 1 – £13.10
  • Dice Set: Carrion Crown – £7.99***

Total= £42.07

Shipping= £11.30

Grand Total= £53.37

I don’t know about you but I’m honestly surprised with the difference in price, or rather the lack of. There’s barely the cost of a coffee from Starbucks difference between the 3 vendors. I’ve chosen to go with with Paizo direct since they get the full amount of money, over a cut, and as a subscriber I don’t have to worry about release dates.

*Most banks in the UK will charge you a surcharge for using your debit/credit card to buy things internationally. Usually this is a stand £1+% the % varies from bank to bank. As far as I know there is no way to avoid this charge, other than using a 3rd party payment processor such as PayPal.

**I choose the Book Depository because they are one of the better Market Place vendors, and have one of the best reputations. As well as a quick dispatch and no quibble replacement policy.

***The Dice are only available direct from Q-Workshop Market Place on Amazon

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