I’ve commented before that one of the things I really like about Paizo’s approach to Pathfinder is their willingness to do something different. Of course, the usual stuff is still there, too. In the hardcover rulebook line, the Advanced Player’s Guide, Ultimate Magic, and Ultimate Combat all serve to provide players with their fix of new classes, archetypes, feats, and spells. For gamemasters, there’s the plethora of Bestiaries with Bestiary 4 now announced for this fall. But amidst those, there are also books like the GameMastery Guide and the NPC Codex, all of which take a break from the usual style and offer up something new or a twist on something old. Even those books I mentioned as delivering the usual stuff still have a number of new options in them. Archetypes, for example, while appearing everywhere now, were new in the Advanced Player’s Guide.
The latest hardcover rulebook from Paizo is Ultimate Campaign, a book dedicated to an aspect of roleplaying that most books completely gloss over, something some people even gloss over in actual play: non-adventuring time. The vast majority of the rules in Pathfinder (and indeed, most roleplaying games) cover adventuring—fighting monsters, disarming traps, casting spells, travelling through dungeons and wilderness, etc.—and pay very little attention, if any, to what players’ characters get up to between adventures. But for many people, downtime is as much part of the game as the adventuring side is. Where do these characters live? What do they do when they’re not adventuring? What happens if characters try to run a business? What about ruling a nation? How about their families and other relationships? The answers to these questions and more help to define fully fleshed-out and believable characters. They add an additional dimension to the game and provide character motivations beyond just loot. Ultimate Campaign helps players provide answers to these questions and more. Is it a necessary book? No, of course not—no book is really necessary other than the Core Rulebook and maybe the first Bestiary—but it is a very different and useful book. It’s also a very good book and has quickly catapulted itself to one of my favourite books in the hardcover line.