By Thilo Graf
This pdf is 21 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page ToC/Editorial, 1 page advertisement, 2/3 page SRD. That leaves 17 1/3 pages of gaming content.
You know, I was rather disappointed when I bought and played 4th edition. I don’t say it’s a bad system because it simply isn’t – it works awesome for the thousands of people who enjoy it, it’s just not made for me. However, I absolutely loved the idea of skill-encounters and had been using a similar concept in my home campaign for years. This pdf brings skill-encounters to PFRPG.
The pdf kicks off with three pages that explain how to read a skill-encounter and how to write them.
The first skill challenge presented is the all-time classic, the chase (3 pages). The encounter includes information on how spells affect the encounter, with several complications like quick changes, escapes to sewers and rooftops and the like and results for failures. We also get a sidebar for combat during the chase.
I enjoyed reading this one.
The second skill-challenge is gathering information (4 pages). This one also has a huge one page box detailing contacts (barkeeper, wenches, etc.) for the PCs to ask. I’ve been looking for a pre-made encounter for this as I always hated the generic “One-roll-you get the-info-approach”. Well-made piece.
The third skill-challenge is haggling (2 pages). Due to the nature of the challenge, this one is rather timid and not too suspense-laden, but well done nevertheless.
The fourth skill-challenge is research (3 pages). This is probably one of the coolest skill-challenges within this book – at least for me. If you happen to have an investigation-heavy campaign, this section alone is worth the price. The complications like other scholars, library holidays and the like are both generic and cool. Nice work.
The fifth and final skill-challenge is wilderness travel (2 1/3 pages). While the default is a forest here, we get a sidebar on other terrains and how to implement the complications presented. Another great skill-encounter.
I really love skill-encounters, if only because they give PCs a chance to roll the bones and build suspense without resorting to bashing. Thus, this pdf has a rather easy standing with me. Especially the gather information, research and chase encounters are gold for my campaign. The pdf itself is beautiful and full-colour, the artwork is okay and presentation is concise and precise in its wording. I didn’t notice any editing glitches. However, there are also some drawbacks that I feel I have to mention: While the pdf is beautiful, the page are yellow and there is no printer-friendly version out there. While the pdf is not large, I think it would have benefited from a printer-friendly version, as b/w print-out it just doesn’t look as great. I also would have loved to see bookmarks, as there are none. In the haggling section, I missed a complication for another bidder for the item. The pdf is priced $5.00, which is ok for the quality, but not too cheap. It’s quite hard for me to rate this pdf: On the one hand, I LOVE skill-encounters and that they have been brought to PFRPG and the utility of this product. On the other hand, I have these minor criticisms and thus can’t rate it 5 stars. I’ll shoot for a very good 4.5 stars instead, with the notice that, if you don’t care about the yellow pages or the lack of a competing haggler, this is a must-buy for you. These rules should be part of the standard Pathfinder canon. Here’s to hoping Paizo will implement them.