There are a few different categories of books available for pen and paper RPG Pathfinder: the Core Rulebook, which is necessary to play the game, GM specific books (such as Bestiaries or Adventure Paths), and sourcebooks. Sourcebooks are ways to enrich the world of a Pathfinder campaign setting: they enhance the lore surrounding the gameworld, and they add all sorts of new classes, equipment, and abilities to further personalize player characters and NPCs. Although it’s a slim volume compared to some sourcebooks, the Adventurer’s Guide is a great sourcebook to have on hand for multiple reasons, although any given RPG group generally only has need for one copy.
For those who are unaware, Pathfinder is a pen-and-paper RPG similar published by Paizo which is similar to Dungeons & Dragons. Players create an adventuring party, travel across a fictional fantasy realm, defeat monsters, and pretend to be something they are not. If played with the right group of people, tabletop RPGs can be some of the most engrossing gaming experiences you will ever have. One of the ways to help make these RPGs more in-depth is through the addition of sourcebooks.
The reason the Adventurer’s Guide is such an excellent sourcebook to have is because it can be useful to each and every player in the game. This book gives details on all of the guilds, orders, and adventuring groups in the world of Pathfinder. In typical Paizo fashion, these are incredibly detailed descriptions. Each group is covered over several pages, and the book lists all sorts of features about each, including:
- Important figures
- Basic facts
- Prestige classes and archetypes for existing characters
- Admission requirements
- New feats, items, spells, and abilities specialized with that group in mind
In short, this nearly 200 page book contains a ton of content. However, sheer volume of content does not necessarily make for a good sourcebook. Luckily, this information can add a ton to your Pathfinder sessions, and, even better, can do it no matter who is using it.
GMs will find the Adventurer’s Guide useful for helping to create more of a living, breathing world. Fighting random battles against tough NPCs can be fun, but making enemies with the Red Mantis assassin’s guild or stealing a valuable treasure from the Eagle Knights and constantly running afoul of these same groups makes for a truly memorable experience. This sourcebook can allow GMs to create an ongoing source of tension or friendship for the party, and help give a Pathfinder campaign the same depth as some of the great fantasy epic stories like Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones.
One of the common pitfalls for a beginning tabletop RPG player lies in the sheer amount of information available to you. “What do you mean my character can literally be anything?” This means that, oftentimes, beginners essentially make either a slightly different version of themselves or a standard fantasy cliche. This can cause players to run into a wall when the campaign starts to move forward, as they may not build in ways for their characters to grow naturally. That’s where this book can come in. By working with a GM, a beginner can set up a story where they are a part of one of these groups, or have run afoul of one of them. This can give a character an easy method for growth, some agency in character development, and a way for a GM to easily build in story elements with what may otherwise be a bare-bones player character.
Even more experienced Pathfinder players can find a lot to love in the Adventurer’s Guide. Every group listed has multiple prestige classes and archetypes for existing classes, allowing for insane levels of specification in building a character. All sorts of magical equipment is listed, providing juicy targets for looting and questing. Any sourcebook can be useful for experienced players, as more options allow them to really build the exact character they want. There is a lot of bang for your buck in the Adventurer’s Guide, and it is also useful for many of the same reasons as it is for beginners.
Besides the actual contents of the book, there is a lot to love in the Adventurer’s Guide. Nearly every page is bursting forth with great art. Half page murals introduce each guild in action, charming portraits of important members pop off the page, and each prestige class, archetype, and piece of equipment fit nicely. The art is especially interesting because each group is so different from one another: the aesthetic of the Hellknights is dramatically different from that of the Gray Maidens, which is a total U-turn from the Magaambya. It’s worth owning the book just to page through and see the huge variety of groups patrolling the world of Pathfinder.
Verdict: Overall, there is a lot to love about the Pathfinder Adventurer’s Guide. There is something for everyone, the art really pops, and it adds a lot to an already packed full RPG. I cannot recommend every sourcebook to every group, but this is one that every Pathfinder party should have on their shelf somewhere.