By Thilo Graf
This pdf from Raging Swan Press is 23 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page blank inside front cover, 2 pages editorial, 1 page ToC (including a neat little rhyme), 1 page information on reading stat-blocks for novice DMs, 1 page back cover, 1 page SRD and 1 page advertisement, leaving 14 pages of content for your perusal, so let’s take a look at RSP’s third collection of villains for PFRPG!
Villains III presents you with 10 new ready-to-drop sample villains to introduce to your campaign. The foes presented herein range in the low-to mid-level section and all come with detailed information on their respective backgrounds, b/w-artworks, mannerisms, distinguishing features and personal quirks, making them feel like more than just a set of stats.
Who are we introduced to, you ask?
We get a half-elven con-artist is a neat femme fatale, a dashing thief, a bodybuilder straight-edge mercenary dwarf, a brigand that never knew love, a barbaric, drunken bully, a tricky illusionist born to a mother who never wanted him, a poisoner who works for the local army…and kills everyone else. There is also a sociopathic elven beauty. There is also a half-orc bereft of guidance and a beauty who has been tarnished by the abyss. While I tried to give you short impressions, the characters herein are interesting in the way that they are not evil because the stat-block says so, but rather because they had to endure terrible upbringings, traumas, etc. There is no NPC herein that has not at least some kind of saving grace and essentially, all of them could potentially be saved by the PCs and made into cohorts -they are smart characters that go beyond card-box cut-out motives.
It should also be noted that the final page of the pdf features 5 different sample encounters consisting of the characters herein. They could potentially be combined into rival adventuring parties etc.
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. The b/w-layout adheres to a 2-column standard and the pdf comes with extensive bookmarks. In tradition with RSP’s excellent service, we get a separate version of the pdf optimized for e-readers as well as a separate 10-page file that contains all the statblocks from this pdf to help you create your very own, ready-to-use statblock library. That being said, a pdf like this stands and falls with the quality of its statblocks and writing and I’m a bit torn on this installment of Villains. On the one hand, the characters at least are mostly multiclass, thus making the low-level statblocks not as simple as I’ve feared. On the other hand, though, unique abilities and features like in Villains II are largely absent from this pdf, although they might have lent more unique touches to the foes. That being said, character-wise this is my favourite of the villain-installments in the way that all of the characters are somewhat relatable and might even be redeemed with the right tools and methods. Smart PCs might thus be rewarded beyond conquering foes with new henchmen and allies. While I do like this approach and statblock-wise there’s not much to complain about, some of the villains mention henchfolk without providing statblocks for them and that, combined with the lack of more unique abilities remain the only, minor tarnish of this pdf. My final verdict will thus be 4.5 stars, a slightly miss of a new benchmark for the line that could with some minor improvements have been 5 stars + seal of approval.
Villains III is available from: