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Ultimate Campaign Under Review

June 17, 2013

Of all the books I have been anticipating, Ultimate Campaign is the one that tops the list.  Books that allow for unlimited creation are my bread and butter and I love creating my own campaigns, kingdoms, and worlds.  If you have seen my well-worn copy of Richard Baker’s comprehensive AD&D World Builder’s Guidebook, you would definitely know where I am coming from.  Now you can understand why I was so excited about this book.  Let’s break it down by chapter:

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Chapter 1 – Character Background

This chapter is excellent for those players who have run out of character ideas.  Random tables cover everything from races and classes to siblings and love interests.  New traits and feats are introduced and new drawbacks allow a character to add a third trait.  It gives anyone the chance to flesh out your character more than ever thought possible.

But the gem in this chapter (for me) is the Story Feats.  Consisting of four parts (Prerequisite, Benefit, Goal and Completion Benefit), these feats give a benefit when taken and another when a sort of mini-quest is achieved.  The feats cover everything from freeing slaves to building massive monuments.  I think this is a very nice addition to regular feats that tend to just complement combat actions.

Chapter 2 – Downtime

Earning Cash should be the name of this chapter and it gives your character something to do while not clearing out the local dungeon or defeating that evil sorcerer in the next town.  The system for earning capital is expansive and covers ways to build and hire minions with more than just using gold.  A listing includes examples of rooms and buildings to build and hiring employees (thugs, clergy, etc.) to staff your creations.  Random event table tied to buildings are also included.  This chapter is sort of ‘numbers heavy’ but once you get it, it will be easy and have you prepared for more in Chapter 4.

Chapter 3 – Campaign Systems

This chapter deals with many campaign-related issues such as alignment, companions and contacts.  It breaks it all down and gives more detailed explanations than I expected.  Other aspects offered is an honor, reputation and fame system reminiscent of the one used for the Pathfinder Society Organized Play fame and prestige system.  An interesting aspect that interests me personally is the section on young characters.  The question becomes what if you had a campaign that started when the characters were young and progressed all the way through old age?  And that leads us to the all-important culmination that is Chapter 4.

Chapter 4 – Kingdoms and War

This chapter is basically split into two parts; Kingdom Building and Mass Combat.  Kingdom Building takes aspects from Chapters 1-3 and combines them into the next logical progression, the kingdom.  This sections takes you from the settlement phase (a step up from buildings in Chapter 2) and lets you expand your fledgling kingdom.  This section includes ways to manage your kingdom through edicts and building points.  Like Chapter 2, this can also be ‘numbers heavy’ but, again, once you get it, it is easy.  There are also optional rules to extend your kingdom’s reach with diplomacy, exploration, trade and vassalage.  This goes into how to deal with the fame or infamy of your kingdom and expansion beyond the kingdom’s borders.

And it is when diplomacy goes bad that this takes us into the second part of the chapter; Mass Combat.  This section covers army size, action phases and tactics.  It also covers commanders and boons that they can confer onto armies as well as resources and special abilities that an army may use and possess.  Examples of armies are also included.  The fleet battle system in the Skulls and Shackles Adventure Path is a derivative of this section.

All in all, this book is really well thought out by the Paizo staff and extremely informative and helpful.  With the only drawback I can think of as being somewhat ‘numbers heavy’, I give this an enthusiastic 4.5 out of 5 stars!

Check out last Monday’s article about Cooperative Summoning.

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