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Villainous Pirates $5.99
Average Rating:5.0 / 5
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Villainous Pirates
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Villainous Pirates
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/10/2013 20:40:32
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=30660.

Villainous Pirates presents, in 50 pages, Pirates of Note and nine Pirates of Renown ready for the time-crunched GM to quickly and easily insert into almost any campaign. Each pirate benefits from an extensive write-up including notes on their background, personality, mannerisms and distinguishing marks as well as a fully detailed stat block. Pirates of Renown also come with plot hooks making it easy to insert them into almost any campaign. It’s currently available for sale for $5.99 on DriveThruRPG or Paizo.com

OVERALL

Pirates are a very serious business for those who play Pathfinder. Villainous Pirates expands on the life of pirates and helps those who may need a little nudging in building pirates to remember! There are a few formatting kinks, and I would have loved the product in color, but it is not the end of the world, nor should it keep you from purchasing the item.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 8 out of 10
Presentation of Layout: It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed a Raging Swan Press publication, but once again I was not disappointed. The layout is clean and simple. It is in black and white as per the format, but it’s not an epic deal breaker. I like the original looks of the pirates, they leave you to fill in the color thanks to the black and white format.

Formatting annoyance: I hate it when digital publishers who have enough material to give characters proper spacing, do not do so. Now granted, for printed works, space is precious. But for digital works since there is no page limits or printing restrictions it gives publishers the ability to give space wherever needed. The pirates are stacked on top of one another which makes the stat blocks not quite look right. It’s not the end of the world, but it’s a ding for a GM who is trying not to go from one page to another.

Ease of Mobility: The bookmarks irritate me a bit cause they take forever to navigate. But other than that the file is smooth and doesn’t take forever to load, which is totally nice.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10
The product is quite mechanically sound. The stat blocks can be a little confusing, but again that’s due to the formatting issues that are above. Take your time when incorporating them into your campaign so you make sure to get it all right!

Value Add: 10 out of 10
There are quite a lot of pirate-related supplemental material going on in Pathfinder right now. It’s kind of that “flavor” of the RPG Season, as I’ve seen quite a lot of publishers big and small go and do a pirates add-on, but this is definitely worth the money invested! Give it a shot!

Overall: 9 out of 10
There are quite a lot of pirate fun goodies being written for the Pathfinder system as the result of Skulls and Shackles and a lot of pirate goodies in Pathfinder most recently, and this piece is no exception to the rule! This is definitely a product that will continue to help GMs for years to come!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Villainous Pirates
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Rollme S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/22/2012 17:51:04
This is an awesome resource for a GM running a pirate game, or even just for a bunch of NPCs to populate a dockside tavern with. There are full npc write ups including stat blocks for about 40 characters and creatures. The first chapter covers a bunch of lower level "pirates" or, more generally, sailors (I wouldn't consider some, like the cassian angel, to be true pirates) suitable as rivals, allies, or hired hands (which makes me glad that not all of them are evil pirates). This last one is particularly good for if the players get a ship and want to hire a captain or recruit one with Leadership. These first 29 NPCs of CR 3-7 are awesome overall, and are very creative from both a background and a character/monster design perspective. There's everything from classic humans, goblins, and half-orcs to more exotic sirens, xill, and even a cloaker that imitates the ships sail (a note on the cloaker, if you use it you will want to drop its AC by 2 or make its full plate mithral, since the max Dex bonus to AC is exceeded by 2 for regular full plate). I had one issue with the advanced young girallon because the advanced template does not normally add +4 Int to int scores of 1 or 2, but the writing is cool and the concept is so much fun I'm tempted to include her regardless. The second chapter/section is higher CR (9-13) pirates that seem to be designed as plot hooks and story drivers in home brew campaigns like ours. In a few levels if the party hasn't sold their ship and moved on to other shenanigans I am curious to see how the paladin deals with the moral conflicts that could arise from the treat barbarian (who serves as a mast on his ship, awesome imagery) seeking vengeance on those who cut down forests. There are some great characters in here and I look forward to running more of them!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Publisher Reply:
Thanks very much for reviewing this - and So What's The Pirate Ship Like, Anyway? I much appreciate it and am glad you enjoyed them!
Villainous Pirates
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/10/2012 16:37:31
This pdf is 49 pages long, 1 page front cover, 3 pages editorial, 1 page ToC/foreword, 1 page how-to-read statblocks for novice DMs, 1 page SRD, 2 pages biographical information on the designers and 1 page on how to use them and 1 page back cover, leaving a total of 38 pages of content, so let's check this out!

Funny how synergies tend to go - here's a pirate-themed AP and there we are: A solid selection of pirate-themed NPC-villains with the good ol' Raging Swan-treatment. The pirates range from a CR of 3 to 13 and the pdf kicks off with a table that has them ordered by CR.

The pirates herein are not entirely conventional and you'll soon see why: The very first pirate is actually a cassian angel bard, and we have halfling fighter/duelists, a xill expert/surgeon , half-orcish savage skalds, a samurai ronin, a brownie witch, a siren oracle, a SANDMAN (!!!!) transmuter, literally all of the NPCs herein have something going for them but if you're in doubt, the NPCs also use neat5 class options: Take for example Oga Ogati, a barbarian (invulnerable rager)4/oracle (waves) 4 or take Old Benaz, the poltergeist sea singer bard 2 to a rare 4-armed miniature girallion and even a cloaker fighter, a kapoacinth rogue, an ettercap barbarian and even a grindylow monk, we get a stellar array of awesome characters, all with mannerisms, distinguishing features etc. to make them come easier to life. And if you're thinking these characters might be too far out, rest assured that e.g. classics like a fully stated multiclassed tiefling assassin are also part of the deal - at least for me, though, the stranger pirates are the imaginative winners here. This chapter closes, as does the second, with a list of the pirates by alignment (CE to LN, btw.).

The second chapter deals with so-called pirates of renown: While the first chapter provided cool characters and solid stats to use, including short paragraphs and NPC-information, the expert fluff-writers of RSP go all out for the second chapter, providing at least one page of space for each character - take e.g. the devious quasit sorceror Cyllav Bellcroaker to Magus Banneus Pollar, who is afraid of his familiar - with reason and a lot of cool development potential for enterprising GMs. Have I mentioned the red-skinned mercane-slaver Insaelt, who is hunted by a zelekhut, making for a truly interesting and strange hook? Or take the driven Jessa Wavechaser, searching for her brother and sworn to the powers of the sea. Kalazabuil is one of my favorites: The giant advanced barghest captain of the Bleeding Edge comes with his very own poem called "Six Feasts of Kalazabuil", which might make for a neat idea for a whole campaign or a dread prophecy the PCs should have to defeat. Rexal Urexin, the minotaur-captain is also notable for his three bullet-points style special crew-members mentioned and fans of freeport should rejoice that a serpentfolk magus has also found its way into the pdf alongside Vessa, the lizardfolk shaman queen. And then there's Verdan Calanphon, the elemental kin treant barbarian-pirate who scours the sea to prevent artificial volcano-eruptions and defeat fire-giants and similar threats to forests. Oh, and he has the leader of the fire-giant's hand grafted to one of his charred limbs as a gruesome source of barbaric strength. See the details? See the iconicity? This pdf is full of such. The pdf closes with pirates of renown by alignment.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are, as I've come to expect from Raging Swan, top notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP's printer-friendly 2-column standard and the pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for screen-use and one for printing, but no section of RSP-statblocks for the statblock library. It seems like RSP has abandoned that idea, which is a bit of a pity. The artworks are b/w and mostly nice and fitting, though I've seen some before. The pdf come with a plethora of nested bookmarks. See that complain about the missing RSP-statblock library file? Somehow it's sad - that's seriously the only gripe I could muster. After the stellar "Scions Of Evil" I honestly didn't expect the pdf to live up to that standard. RSP listens, RSP improves. Villainous Pirates is a stellar selection of cool NPCs, that, while not an apex of complexity in their builds, shows that the respective characters are interesting, make for awesome weird crew-mates, enrich the settings into which they are introduced and may even spark off a campaign of their own. Were all NPC-books like this, I wouldn't have to write reviews at all. Final verdict? 5 stars, endzeitgeist seal of approval and congratulations to John Bennett, Andrew Glenn and David Posener for delivering an excellent resource that sets the bar very high indeed.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Villainous Pirates
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Joshua G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/29/2012 08:38:54
At 49 pages, with 7 pages going to the front/back covers, OGL, credits..etc. etc. We have here a collection of 30 pirates, ready to be dropped into an adventure for an evening, or added to a long running campaign as a crucial persona. Presented as either Pirates of Note (moderately famous scallywags), or of Renown (true legends of the waves who captain their own vessels, leading crews through the storm wracked waves), the assortment of personalities here will leave any GM with plenty to sate their appetite. Designed as support material for So What's The Pirate Ship Like, Anyway?, this addition to the line easily pulls double duty for those GM's running the current Skull & Shackles AP from Paizo, as you can never have enough piratical goodness in an adventure.

The PDF comes with a full contingent of bookmarks, and a linked Table of Contents as well (always a plus), in addition to the TOC, the pirates are listed by CR (which oddly the chart shows a full column for page number as well, but has no such information). Sadly the CR list is not linked, but that is a minor detail given the bookmarks. Immediately following each section (of Note or Renown) is a listing of each pirate by alignment as well. Format follows a dual column approach, with the occasional piece of B&W artwork, ranging from good to average.

Now, with 38 personalities I am not going to get into a listing exercise, but I do want to touch on a concern I could see people having, and that is that the race card has very much been played, in the best way possible folks. We have (in alphabetical order) at least one of each of the following races: angel (cassian), barghest, brownie, cloaker (evil laugh), dwarf, elf, ettercap, girallon, goblin, grindylow, half-celestial, half-elf, half-orc, halfling, hobgoblin, human, kapoacinth, lizardfolk, mercane, minotaur, poltergeist, quasit, sahuagin, sandman, serpentfolk, siren, tiefling, treant, undine, xill. As I said, there are plenty of races to work with here, so this will not be a collection of plain old human pirates with a few pointy ears thrown in for good measure...there's a healthy selection here folks.

After a quick bio page for the three designers behind this work (congratulations guys!) and a “How to use this book in your game” page, it is time to get down to meeting the pirates. The NPC's are presented with a few lines of backstory and physical description, as well as a hook or two apiece to integrate them easier. The statblocks themselves are not entirely Paizo Standard, but they are easily enough read that it is not an issue. The layout is slightly disconcerting, in that several times throughout the NPC statblocks a section of descriptive text will be broken by the next statblock, or not even be near its appropriate statblock. All of this, while not a huge issue, did make for a slightly odder than usual read.

Now, I know I said I wasn't going to get into particulars, but I must share a few that really stood out to demonstrate the uniqueness of some of these characters. Hacamabavan, a brownie witch, had his home used for a mast (pine tree), so he followed, becoming a secret member of the crew essentially. While they sleep he tends to the crews wounds, taking care of the “big folk” and traveling the world. How about a shaved headed female dwarven antipaladin? Hmmm? Even better, she still thinks she's doing good work, balancing the scales, punishing the wicked and such.

Qulerac, hands down, one of the coolest usages of a common run of the mill creature I have ever seen. A cloaker, a giant cloaker to be specific, who impersonates a sail on whatever vessel he hires on to. Talk about hiding in plain sight, that's genius! Following along the same vein, how about a kapoacinth impersonating a figurehead upon the front bow of a ship? Either of these creatures would seriously shift the tide of a battle quickly, and make any playgroup rethink their entire approach to a vessel, which is exactly what I, as a GM, am looking for in my NPC designs. Well done!

-edit
No one likes to see errors in a PDF, but I love to see a publisher step up and fix them when they are there. With the recent update (that took all of about a day, nice turn around), I am raising my final rating on this book to where it should have been in the first place, a 5. Well done!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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