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!
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!
[5 of 5 Stars!]