Pathfinder Adventure Path: Mummy’s Mask Player’s Guide
Page Count: 14
Release Date: 03/06/2014
Get it Here: Paizo.com
I generally eschew the Pathfinder Adventure Path series. I don’t really think the stories in this collections are very compelling and the pieces often feel a little too high on the roll-playing rather than role-playing. It also doesn’t help that Paizo tends to charge two to three times more for their products than other publishers. Underwhelming and overpriced isn’t how I like to spend my disposable income. That said, I’m a huge fan of Egypt based locations and fantasy style mummies and Pathfinder has really tried to emphasis their Egyptian style setting of Osirion this year with releases like Osirion: Legacy of Pharaohs and Pathfinder Player Companion: People of the Sands, which admittedly has piqued my curiosity. Of course, Paizo’s price gouging keeps me from pulling the trigger. I mean, thirteen dollars for a thirty-two page supplement or nine dollars for the PDF version? That’s ludicrous that people would pay that much, yet thousands of gamers willingly pay this for Pathfinder releases. At least the Player’s Guide or the Mummy Mask Adventure Path is free. That gave me a great opportunity to see if my love of mummies would overcome my disdain for Paizo’s business policies and pricing. The good news is that this Player’s Guide is exceptionally well done and is perhaps the best in Adventure Path series. It really sold me on the quality of the upcoming Mummy’s Mask releases. The bad news is that you can really see Paizo up to their usual tricks of trying to make gamers think they need to buy hundreds of dollars in extra purchases) if they want to play an adventure or campaign setting.
So what do you get in the Mummy’s Mask Player’s Guide? Well you get a nice overview on the location and what starts off the entire adventure path. This is pretty helpful and gives players and DMs alike an idea for background content. You then get advice for character tips, which is essentially half a page of Paizo telling you the best classes aren’t in the core rulebook but in all these other options which you’ll need to own in addition to the six adventures that make up this path (Approximately $120 give or take), the Core Rulebook ($50), the Bestiary ($40) and the GameMaster’s Guide ($40). At this point to play this adventure collection, you’ll have already spent $250 dollars and Paizo is stating, “Well, to really play this Adventure Path properly, you’ll also need these books…” You then get a list of eight books JUST for character class options, which again, is insane and expensive. You’re already going to want to buy the two new Orision based books for the Mummy’s Mask path, which is an additional $33 dollars, raising the current price tag to play this path just for the bare minimum of book to $288. If you really feel you need to spend another twenty to fifty on a book just for a few character class options, than your thought process is completely and totally alien from my own. I’m glad Paizo tells people where they can find alternate character class options in this Player’s Guide, but I’m really not a fan of the hard sell of these products or the implication that adventures are something to WIN rather than experience and that these classes in other expensive tomes will give you a better chance of beating the adventure. That flies completely in the face of what a RPG is to me.
After that you get some nice commentary on languages in the region, good favored enemy choices, appropriate animal companion/familiar options and a nice look at religion in the area. You also get a hint at important skills, traits and equipment to take. Again, I’m torn on this. On one hand, it’s nice to see this advice especially if this Player’s Guide is being read by less experienced gamers. On the other hand, the tone of the piece continues to emphasize that you need to beat an adventure or that an RPG is a game that can be won, which completely misses the mark for me. It’s this style of writing and outlook towards RPGs which is probably why I have such a disconnect with Pathfinder releases. So I can definitely say while the tone of this Player’s Guide actively annoys me at times, I’m also not the target market for Pathfinder and I can at least see why a gamer with the “MUST WIN” mindset would really appreciate a piece like this Player’s Guide and the hints it provides.
The Player’s Guide then gives you a multi-page look at the city of Wati, its districts and what you can expect to find there. This is exceptionally well done except for the one side bar which exists only to sell gamers on products you don’t really need like the item or face cards. The ten Campaign Traits are fantastic and I absolutely loved the sections on environmental issues that come with being in a desert, such as extreme heat, lack of water and sandstorms. The PG the ends with a hex guide and a full map of Wati, both of which are once again exceptionally done.
So overall, I’m really impressed with the Mummy’s Mask Player’s Guide. Despite the hard sell of products you don’t actually need and the very different philosophy towards gaming it espouses, this is one of the best PG’s Paizo has put out. It’s extremely informative and contains a few pieces of information any DM could make use of, even if they don’t plan on using a desert or Osirion based setting. The fact this is free is extremely impressive and helps to offset my usual issues with Paizo’s pricing structure. The content here is strong enough that I’m tempted to subscribe to the Mummy’s Mask Adventure Path in spite of my usual Paizo skepticism, which alone should speak volumes about the quality of this piece. If Mummy’s Mask is as good as the Player’s Guide, this Adventure Path has a strong chance of being the best one yet.