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Book of Friends and Foes: Assassins in the River Nations (PFRPG) $2.95
Publisher: Jon Brazer Enterprises
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/01/2012 05:35:20
This pdf is 13 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page advertisement, leaving 9 pages of content, so let's check this out!

After a page of introduction that explains the methodology behind the creation of these assassins, we dive right into the killers by providing the first one and I already love her: Muffin Brownbarrel is cute as a button. The halfling baker is sweet, kind and a master of poisons that specializes in killing arcanists. She has only a few magic items - she doesn't need more and her background, modus operandi and artwork make her uncommon, cool and oh-so-unthreatening - until you try her goods...

In direct comparison, the witch-assassin Jolanta with her centipede-familiar feels rather insultingly straight-forward and unsubtle, but each task has its tool... Speaking of unsubtle: The mountain-stalking Qog, a half-orc ranger/assassin build with his pet dog may also not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but he gets the job done.

More subtle and versatile, Cyali Starwatcher, cleric and cultist to a god of murder has not only some divine power to back her up, but also a host of interesting options at her hand. Honorable in his dealings, but despicable nonetheless, the hobgoblin fighter/assassin Koron has brought fortune to his tribe by killing for money and is now known as the warmaster of death.

Much more interesting and less straight-forward, Mariana (rogue 5/assassin 7) has the chameleon archetype and uses it to devastating effect - catching her will prove to be a challenge to say the least. And then, there's a gnomish court bard/assassin who has been also known for his calling card of putting an arrow into a dead target's left ear.

And then there's the final assassin - who is not an assassin, at least by class: An elven magus completes the cadre of NPCs and makes for an uncommon and rather flashy foe.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are rather sub-par - I noticed several rather jarring glitches. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column standard and each of the characters herein gets his/her own nice b/w-artwork. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and also with full herolab-support. This is essentially a collection of several interesting assassin-builds. While the builds per se are well done and I liked the use of archetypes, personally, I would have enjoyed more complex combinations, perhaps with templates, but I won't hold that against the pdf.
What I do hold against it, though, is its evident artificially imposed limit on the entries of the characters. Every statblock, artwork and supplemental information fits on just one page and while that means that all the information is on one page, the format also means that higher level statblocks take up more space on the page: Combine that with animal companions/familiars and the artworks, and almost no supplemental information is left, which is a double pity when reading e.g. Muffin's entry (who gets the most extensive background) - it's her modus operandi, her fluff influencing her crunch, that makes her interesting, unique and intriguing. And this is also where the pdf loses some of its potential: With an additional page (methods, signature calling cards, famous kills, battle and escape strategies, background etc.) of fluff, each of these builds could have easily become a star and this pdf an example of awesomeness. As written, though, it remains a good selection of statblocks that could easily have been much, much more. As written, it remains "only" a good, cheap selection of assassins and I almost went 4, but due to the editing glitches, my final verdict will be 3.5 stars due to Muffins being the adorable dealer of death she is and the low price - nevertheless, for now and as long as this has not gotten another pass at editing, I'll round down to 3.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
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Book of Friends and Foes: Assassins in the River Nations (PFRPG)
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