Shopping Suggestions for Parents, Part 3

16 Dec

It’s getting to be that time of year in America to reflect upon what we have, spend time with family, and of course to SHOP!

Here is another list of shopping ideas for people who are just CUH-RAZY about Pathfinder RPG! This supplements the previous lists:

Shopping Suggestions for Parents, Part 1

Shopping Suggestions for Parents, Part 2

Here goes…

Bestiary Box

bestiaryThere are few better ways to make a GM feel like they’re “all set” than a menagerie of deadly monsters! 


This box has more than 300 creature pawns from the Pathfinder Bestiary, the first Pathfinder RPG monster book. Each pawn is printed on sturdy cardstock and slots into the plastic bases that come with the set. Included are Small, Medium, Large, and Huge(!) monsters from the Bestiary.

One should not have this without first having the Pathfinder Bestiary, however, to have stats that go with these monsters.

Because the box is heavy, it is probably cheaper to go to your FLGS (Friendly Local Gaming Store) to get one. In Berkeley, there are Games of Berkeley and Eudemonia.

GM Screen

pathfinder-gm-screenLet’s be honest: some kids like the Game Master role because they get to be in a position of authority with their friends. They have the privilege of handing down game rulings and determining whether their friends live or die. Well, nothing helps cement the enigmatic status of the Game Master than a GM Screen!

Secondarily (for the kids!), it also has its USEFUL functions: preventing prevents players from seeing the GM’s adventure notes and monster stats; serving as a stand for placing initiative cards; providing many useful charts from the Core Rulebook such as skill tables, condition descriptions, and stats for environmental features (e.g., an answer to “I try to break down the door!”).

Kids will also be targets of envy if they nab one of the uncommon versions that have alternate covers: GM Screen.

Technology Guide

technology-guideThe Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook from Shopping Suggestions, Part 2 provides all the core rules and options to run a full Pathfinder RPG game. The book Ultimate Equipment provides an expansion of fantastical gear and magic items to supplement those core rules. However, those books stay within the established tropes of fantasy and swords & sorcery (Lord of the Rings, Conan the Barbarian, etc.).

That is because Paizo reserved SUPER-SCIENCE and TECHNOLOGY for the Technology Guide! It is a softcover book containing TONS of technological options: including laser guns, hologram generators, cybernetic implants, remote controls for robots, powered armor, and extinction wave devices! There are also archetypes for some classes, and a new prestige class, the Technomancer, which uses magic to command robots and power technology.

Sure, this is heresy for fantasy purists. But for others this is the chocolate to their peanut butter. This supplement suits fantasy/sci-fi themed campaigns, and was published to support the Iron Gods Adventure Path. This is not at all required, however, to be a player in Iron Gods.

Hero Lab

HeroLabImageThis is on the pricier end of the spectrum, but for those students for whom CREATING A CHARACTER is a large part of their Pathfinder fun, it is a godsend.

Making a character in Pathfinder RPG, especially a high-level one, can be complicated. For some young people it is a genuine stumbling block — a black box hiding away part of the fun, which is a shame because Pathfinder RPG supports a wide range of character concepts, from druids with animal companions to gunslingers to mad scientists with detachable tumors that fight for them to mind-controlling mesmerists to world-shaping wizards. As a result, many students find themselves dependent on me or other more experienced players to selectively feed recommendations to them from the sea of options (there are over 2,000 feats!). The numerous classes, archetypes, spells, and equipment are scattered over several books, making this process even more difficult.

Hero Lab empowers some students to do the building on their own, and can open up another world within the world of the game.

Hero Lab computerizes the process and consolidates the options in navigable menus. And because Pathfinder RPG has many numerical interactions, it automates the math. So for example, if you put on that Belt of Giant Strength in Hero Lab, it adjusts all your attack and damage rolls and skill bonuses for you. If you transmogrify into a rhinoceros, it calculates your new stats!

Also, Hero Lab warns you that you cannot take that Feat because you need to meet one of its requirements first. While some might see this as a crutch that replaces actual studying of the game rules, for others it can be positive by serving as “training wheels” because it shows you specifically what went wrong: one can’t learn without knowing something is wrong first, and understanding why.

Chandra Nalaar (Guild) 10_Page_1Finally, you can add a PICTURE to your character sheet! For many kids, this is the icing on the awesome cake, and they can wave it in front of their friends and say, “SEE! Look how awesome I am!”

The downside of Hero Lab is its price – $30 for the software that supports the Core Rulebook, and $10 to support each supplemental book. So, to be in sync with the class options we use in the afterschool program that is $50 (which uses Advanced Player’s Guide, Ultimate Magic, Ultimate Combat, Advanced Class Guide, and Occult Adventures). The Ultimate Equipment options we use in the class are another $10. And we use the improved versions of the rogue and summoner in Pathfinder Unchained ($10).

However, there are MANY upsides. One is that each supplement is an alternative way to get the mechanical options from that book (which is usually $40, or $30 on Amazon). If taken with the PDF download of that book available on Paizo’s website (even the Core Rulebook is only $10) which, if you want to, you can print off and bind at a copy store (which I actually do not recommend for the Core Rulebook because it is too big to bind!), you have the entire content of that book as well. Alternatively, one could simply get the core Hero Lab package and get the many benefits that come with it. (Though I guarantee that once one sees how easy and fun it is to make a character in it, one will WANT the supplements!)

Also, this is a gift that keeps on giving: Lone Wolf Development, which develops the software, provides ongoing updates to improve its usability and to patch changes to the rulesets even after the printing of a book is superseded by errata.

There are some free interactive Excel spreadsheets and other options out there, but they pale next to Hero Lab and they don’t constantly update.

Lastly, there are is an online community of people who create their own fan-created packages for Hero Lab, including a package that includes the options from the excellent third-party Ultimate Psionics book that I personally use.

1 Comment

Posted by on December 16, 2015 in For Parents, Resources


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