I’ve played D&D for quite some time. After so many years of exposure to the standard fantasy races, I was quite bored with them. It wasn’t until D&D 4E that these core races were changed up some. Previous editions had presented optional races but they suffered from both poor execution, power creep, and the stigma that was attached to splat books of the time. One of my hopes was that Pathfinder would take a tack similar to 4E and make variations of the standard races and create new ones to provide a much needed energy boost to the genre. This wish was not granted until now.
This book provides players and gms alike a toolbox for character creation. It provides a new way of dealing with the core races in Pathfinder. Introduces a new set of races with fiction to place them within the Pathfinder setting. Finally it provides a mechanic for players and gms to create races that they would like to see in play with examples of the 4E races presented as sidebar information.
If you have had a waning interest in Fantasy roleplaying due to the same boring races, this will provide a new perspective on old favorites. It takes the tropes that are easily associated with the core fantasy races and provides a modular system for adjusting them to fit a variety of different needs. One of things that I appreciated was a set of adjustments to take each race and create a more seafaring version of each. I had a penchant for pirate style games and it was always a lot of work to make adjustments to the different races to make all my players happy. In addition to this modular system for adjusting races, It also presents new class archetypes, spells, and item options to create a better feel for each race. My favorite example of this is the variation on the Oracle for elves. It tailors the spell list of this divine caster to give it a decidedly elven feel without diluting the class itself.
The second part of the book deals with the addition of new races to the Pathfinder setting. These range from Catfolk to Grippli. Some of these additions seem to be a bit exotic for a fantasy setting but I think it adds a refreshing change of pace to any game. Who doesn’t want to play the noble Grippli Prince Kermit Keropie. If you get that reference, I’ll give you a cookie. Ok, I lied. I won’t give you a cookie despite you truly deserving one for recognizing that reference. In addition to these exotic races, it presents a variety of planar flavored humans for your gaming enjoyment. Each race in this section is give a short blurb on how they would fit into overall Pathfinder. I have to say that my favorite new race is the Strix. Who wouldn’t love dusky, persecuted, winged humanoids? Emo bird people FTW!
To cap the book off, it presents a race creation system that allows players and gms to create whatever their cold little hearts desire. It uses the same modular system presented with the core races at the beginning of the book. This allows for a quick and easy swapping process to create whatever you would like while keeping a running points total to make it easier to know how powerful the new race will turn out. Instead of using negative levels or an experience penalty like other versions have used in the past, a level/points chart is provided. The chart shows how much more difficult encounters should be with the new race based on points spent and character level. The only problem with the chart is that is not presented first. It would be better to see the chart and then begin creation as this gives a better idea of how you are progressing.
Over all, this was a good book. The artwork was well done and varied which I have come to expect from Pathfinder products. The writing and mechanics are great and easy to understand. The book made me want to try playing Pathfinder again. It answered one of my main issues with standard fantasy which was boredom with the normal races. Now, I have a much broader spectrum to choose from at the beginning which makes it easier for me to get into the game. My only issue with the book is the glaring omission of the Minotaur. It is such an iconic fantasy creature that would make an intriguing race to play in Pathfinder. Why no Minotaur love?