Art of the Genre

This week my gaming review will focus on Paizo’s award winning Pathfinder supplement, Ultimate Campaign.

Now before I get into the meat of this one, let me explain a few things about myself as a gamer. First, the reason I game is to create, and because I create I’ve continued to play RPGs for some 30 years. However, as my life has become more complex and various moves continue to forbid me from enjoying a gaming group, I tend to have little chance to roll dice.

What does that mean? Well, it means I get to game only once per year, and the other 51 weeks I get to do little but imagine what my characters are up to in the interim.

Here is where something like the Paizo’s Ultimate Campaign really comes in handy. The book is a 249 page treatise on everything a character might choose to do BETWEEN the adventures.

That, my friends, is really what I love about the game. If my characters are simple numbers on sheets of paper than the game quickly becomes useless to me, but if I can give them a history, a backstory, a love, a loss, and a full life outside the dungeon crawls then you’ve got my attention.

Ultimate Campaign provides this in spades.

Now depending on how deep you want to go, the book is there to help you at every turn. We start with, where else, Character Background. This 66 page section details early life, adolescence, adulthood, background generation for all classes, traits and drawbacks, and even story Feats that can be used to add greater depth to any character.

Once you’ve got your character defined, we enter the Downtime section. Here you get a vast amount of downtime activities, and some very well thought out DM usage avenues like Managers and Rooms & Teams, as well as Buildings and Organizations. But my favorite part of this 60 page section are the Downtime Events that you can generate to keep all players riveted to the between sessions, and in reality I think players will start actually looking forward to the downtime once they get a taste.

In the Campaign Settings chapter, which is another well-constructed 60 pages, there are a plethora of awesome additions that can be brought into play. These include alignment conditions, bargaining theories, companions, contracts, exploration, honor, investment of wealth, lineage, magic item creation [always a popular one for my players], outside relationships, reputation and fame, retirement, and even taxation.

But wait, there’s more! We have a 60 page final chapter on Kingdoms and War. This helps detail Kingdom Building and Mass Combat that can keep your characters both looking for and trying to avoid war as you add a nice game of thrones challenge into your campaign setting.

In all, you can easily see why this book was such a huge success right out of the box, and if you have the time to actually build on your characters, it is a must have for both the DM and the player.

Gaming Rating: 4 [out of 5]

Written by Scott Taylor — October 01, 2013

Leave a comment