Before I get into the first part of of this review (tune in for part 2 tomorrow!), I have to get a few things out of the way… First a bit of a disclosure, I’ve known Johnn Four since joining the Gamer Lifestyle program a few years ago, so it was an immediate “yes” when he asked me to review this book. And I’ve been a long-time reader of Roleplaying Tips, Campaign Mastery, and the great stuff coming out of Rite Publishing. So the fact that the trio of Johnn, Mike Bourke, and Michael K. Tumey has put out not just a good book, but a great book doesn’t surprise me.
Next, I have to say that Assassin’s Amulet is an amazing book. Pushing 300 pages of content, this thing is massive. And it’s not content being a single kind of resource – it contains maps and handouts, locations with amazing detail, adventure hooks, rules for determining the cost of an assassination, using poisons, NPCs up the wazoo, items, a deity… Every time I thought I hit the “end,” the book seemed to grow like its own sort of magic item – the “never-ending book of pages”!
And lastly, I have to ask… Do you prefer your book to be a kitchen sink or would you prefer something in smaller, bite-sized chunks? I know the trio of writers had their reasons for lumping it all together, but in an age of short (4-100 pages) PDFs, it’s unusual to see a book this large these days.
Ok, so all that is now out of the way. Let’s get into this tome which could just as easily be called “Everything You Wanted To Know About Assassins But Were Afraid to Ask” or “The Complete Guide to Assassins in D&D 3.5e/Pathfinder RPG“… Assassin’s Amulet is broken into six chapters, but honestly each one might as well be a book of its own. It starts with a couple of chapters about maps and keys, moves to GM advice, then character classes and NPCs, new magic items, and then ends with a chapter about the big picture.
Any time stats were needed for a class, character, item, monster, or whatnot, they are provided in the book for both D&D 3.x and the Pathfinder RPG. Though I’m largely playing 4e these days, most of the last few years has been spent playing a combination of 3.5e and Pathfinder, so I like seeing the older systems still supported by the community (and publishers) at large.
Layout-wise, the book is two columns throughout, with a ton of art scattered from top to bottom. There is quite a bit of white space between paragraphs, lists, and sections, which could probably have been a bit tighter, but I’d rather see white space than have something resembling newsprint. The artwork varies from black and white line drawings to full color images of varying sizes. The consistent use of skull imagery throughout does a nice job of tying the whole book together.
A couple of mistakes caught my eye, but they’re very minor and I know all too well the impossible nature of wrangling a book of this size and catching every single niggly thing. The biggest one involves the map of the “Assassin’s Lair” on page 13 with the name Cyrene (the goddess involved with the assassins) misspelled as “Cerene.” It’s spelled correctly in the larger version of the map in the appendix. Other than that, it’s really nit-picking and I have to give these guys a solid A for catching as much as they did. You remember I said this book is 300 pages, right?
So now that I have all the high-level stuff covered, tomorrow I’ll actually talk about the content – and that’s probably what you’re more interested in anyway!
In the meantime, pick up your own copy at LegaciesCampaignSetting.com!
- Assassin Blog Carnival Wrap-Up – September 2011 from Roleplaying Tips (roleplayingtips.com)
- I wrote the news today, Oh Boy (campaignmastery.com)
- Campaign Mastery is Exactly What It Says from Evil Machinations (rpggm.com)
- October 2011 Blog Carnival: Making The Loot Part Of The Plot (campaignmastery.com)
- How to Contact and Hire an Assassin from Roleplaying Tips (roleplayingtips.com)
- Interview: Johnn Four of Roleplaying Tips and Gamer Lifestyle (gameknightreviews.com)
- How To Create Great Magic Items In Just Three Minutes from Roleplaying Tips (roleplayingtips.com)