Monday, October 14, 2013

Product Review: Pathfinder NPC Codex and Bestiary (#1)

I've playing Dungeons & Dragons on and off (mostly "off" lately) since the late '70s.  Despite any nostalgic feelings, D&D 3.0/3.5 is my favorite edition.  While I have the core rulebooks for D&D 4.0, no one I know in the local gaming groups play it.  Despite my affection for D&D 3.0/3.5, I've been a slow adaptor to Paizo Publishing's version of D&DPathfinder RPG
When a local group started a couple of Pathfinder RPG (roleplaying game) campaigns, I dipped my toe into the game system by buying the Beginner Box.  When I stumbled across the Bestiary (currently #1 of 4) at Half Price Books a few months ago...

...I had to get the Bestiary Box of Pawns, which I found later at a Hobbytown USA store in Oregon. 

I've always preferred to use miniatures in roleplaying games and I don't enjoy painting miniatures as much as many of my fellow gamers do.  So when Wizards of the Coast was producing its Miniatures Game, I bought figures by the bucket load, mostly inexpensive singles through on-line companies like the Miniatures Market, or Noble Knight Games.  (I don't like random packaging, along with the idea of making figures collectable). 
Since 2011, the folks at Paizo stepped-in with their cardboard pawns found in various box sets.
My latest acquisition was the NPC Codex Box, which I purchased at the The Game Matrix's booth during this summer's Dragonflight.  While not as fully-formed as actual miniatures, these stand-up carboard tokens will do in a pinch.  With nearly 350 NPC (non-player characters) in the box, ranging from lowly NPC Classes to Prestige Classes, a gamemaster has just about any type of NPC available that players may encounter. 
And the best part is:  You don't have to paint them! 
(The Bestiary Box contains nearly 260 pawns representing creatures ranging from small pixies to huge dragons and everything critter in-between).
The artwork is gorgeous and very detailed, while the carboard is thick enough to withstand repeated usage., especially since there's not enough of the black plastic stands for every pawn. 
I only have two minor complaints about the pawns.  First, when you punch out the pawns from the sheet, any large weapon an NPC is brandishing will be cut off.  So you only get a partial view of the weapon-in-hand.  My second complaint has more to do with my middle-aged eyesight than the product itself.  Since these pawns are flat and lack the full three-dimensional look of a miniature, it's hard for me to see all the details.  To do so, I had to use a magnifying glass while wearing my reading glasses.
For a while then, I had a bunch of NPC pawns but I had no idea what their game stats were.  Last week, I ordered the NPC Codex.
This lavishly illustrated book is a companion to the NPC Codex Box (as the Bestiary is to the Bestiary Box) and contains all the information a game master needs to conjure up NPCs on-the-fly, if necessary. 
Best of all, at least for my middle-aged eyes, is that I don't need a magnifying glass to see what the NPCs look like.  And if I hold the book at arms length, I don't need my reading glasses either.
Seriously, if you're planning on running a Pathfinder RPG campaign, you'll find the NPC/Bestiary Boxes and Codexes to be as invaluable as the core rulebook and the GameMastery Guide

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