How about a dual review? I’m late, so two should make up for being lazy!
Product– Pathfinder Player Companion Pirates of the Inner Sea
TL;DR- Not much magic, but a darn fine book 93%
Basics- Ah hoy landlubber! It’s time to be bad guys! Pirates of the Inner Sea discusses being a pirate in Golarion, Pathfinder’s default setting. The book opens with a chapter discussing different pirate histories of the inner sea ranging from sanctioned privateers all the way to all and out pirates. Next the book moves to different pirate gear. After gear, several different archetypes are introduced as well as the Inner Sea Pirate prestige class. The book then discusses Besmara, the god of Pirates and sea monsters. After Besmara, the book introduces a few pirate focused spells and then pirate codes and rules aboard ship.
Mechanics– I liked this book, but it’s not perfect. The prestige class is a nice pirate focused martial character. The archetypes are great pirate focused changes to the core classes. The magic spells build upon what you would expect a pirate would need. The gear is cool. All that is great, but I felt like magic was a bit left out. The spells are good, but there are not many of them. Spell casters didn’t really get any pirate focused prestige classes. The bard got one, but his stuff didn’t focus on magic. It’s good for what you get, but it leaves half the available classes out. 4/5
Theme- This book is amazingly theme-tastic. I liked all the different kinds of pirates discussed in the book. I can play a scallywag, but at the same time I can be a good guy as an Andorian privateer. I can play evil and play a slaver. Awesome. The book ends with a small section on terminology and pirate codes. The codes give the feel of being on a lawless ship where someone has to hold court. The terms make my home game that much more interesting when I bust out random phrases to get my players into the game. Besmara has a nice pirate feel for a god who really doesn’t care what you do! 5/5
Execution- The book is arranged well. I loved what I saw. The art is beautiful. The test isn’t hard to read. I’d like bigger, but then Paizo would have to cut stuff. I enjoyed reading this. Standard Paizo quality. 5/5
Summary– If you want to play pirates in Pathfinder, then go pick this up. If you want to fight pirates then go get this. In both cases, you need this book to make your game that much better. If you plan to run a game inland with absolutely no water, then don’t get this book. All and all I liked what I saw and can’t wait to put more of it to use in my home game. 93%
and now the second review
Product– Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Isles of the Shackles
TL;DR- An amazing textbook of the Shackles 97%
Basics- It’s time to set sail in the most lawless island of all Golarion! This book discusses the different major populated islands of the Shackles, the pirate islands of the Inner Sea of Golarion. The first part of the book give a major island by island run down of each isles people, towns, races, languages, religions, and what you can plunder from the towns there. Each island gets its own story seeds for your game. After the islands, the book shows different random encounter tables as well as new Shackles specific monsters for you to throw in your home game ranging from a CR 1/2 pirate to the CR23 Blood Queen.
Mechanics– This book is only about 1/4 mechanics with new monsters and random encounter tables. I the monsters and well done and most of them are flavored for high seas battles. Don’t read this book expecting new crazy rules, but what’s presented is done well. 5/5
Theme- Most of this book is stories of fantasy places. It does read like a geology and history text book, which can get a little boring even at the best of times. What’s there is great and the seeds that are set in the book do give you a lot of places to run with if you want to run a Shackles campaign. I’d have liked a section on the Isle of Empty Eyes since that’s where the players end up in the Skull and Shackles adventure path. 4.5/5
Execution- The book is well put together as you would expect from Paizo. I’ll admit I did take a few breaks to read this as it is primarily a history textbook of a fantasy place. Don’t get me wrong, this is an amazing textbook of a fake place and its well written with a nice layout so I can read it easily. But, it does get a bit long as you march from one island to the next. 5/5
Summary– If you want to play in the Shackles, this is the book for you. I liked this one a lot. It will take a bit to march through, but if you can pull through you will enjoy what you fine. Most likely though, this is a GM only book. 97%