Review: Paizo Publishing – Classic Horrors Revisited (Pathfinder)


Pathfinder Chronicles: Classic Horrors Revisited
Classic Horrors Revisited is a gothic horror supplement for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game written by James Jacobs, Rob McCreary, and F. Wesley Schneider and published by Paizo Publishing.
By Aaron T. Huss

Classic Horrors Revisited is a fluff-driven sourcebook discussing classic gothic horror villains and some common horrors found in epic fantasy. The content is designed to make those villains come to life by presenting the reader with a 3-dimensional look at their race and society. The content is mostly designed with the Game Master in mind, although characters taking the role of supernatural hunters would be wise to better understand their quarry. The resulting effect is a non-player character with life and purpose instead of seeming flat.

CONTENT

Classic Horrors Revisited takes an in-depth look at ten different horror races common to Pathfinder and the history of Dungeons & Dragons. This list includes: derros, flesh golem, gargoyle, ghost, ghoul, hag, mummy, vampire, walking dead (skeletons & zombies), and werewolves. Each creature type is given five pages of content (six including the lead-in illustration) with a large amount of fluff, periodic mechanics, a sample stat block, and some real-life views of the creatures.

The type of content involves: full descriptions, habitat, ecology, campaign role, known creatures, varieties, the effects of magic, and a few other various items. As you can see from these content headers, the material is fluff-driven instead of crunch-driven. The reader truly gets a 360-degree look at these different creatures and are presented with a number of ideas for incorporating them into your adventures and campaigns as fully-fleshed out creature characters with a purpose.

OVERALL

I recommend Classic Horrors Revisited for everyone who is looking to incorporate some classic gothic horror themes within their adventures or campaigns, including systems other than Pathfinder. It is not a crunch-heavy book as the fluff is what’s designed to make your creature characters come to life. It’s also an awesome book to farm for adventure seeds as there are numerous ideas especially in the lists of known and sample creatures.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
There’s no doubt that Paizo Publishing makes beautiful books. Even the smallest supplements are given the same amount of attention to quality as their core tomes. The illustrations are beautiful, especially the captivating cover. The layout and formatting are also excellent and I love how the stat blocks are wrapped around the illustrations of the creature characters.

Mechanics: 8 out of 10
Classic Horrors Revisited does not contain many mechanics outside of the sample stat blocks. What little it does contain are all tailored for the specific creature type they are describing, and they all fit perfectly. However, I would like to see more mechanics about creating unique NPCs like the sample stat block with information that adds to what is given in the Bestiary books along with the new mechanics. Additional sample stat blocks would work as well, but some type of template would be very valuable. At the same time, you wouldn’t want to detract from the source material side of the publication by inundating the reader with stat blocks.

Value Add: 9 out of 10
Making encounters more meaningful can be a struggle for many Game Masters. Having an amount of background information on a given creature race is a great way to make the encounter more memorable with an environment that “feels” appropriate to the creature along with giving the creature a purpose and motivation. Classic Horrors Revisited is not designed to give you a single creature society to stick into your ongoing campaigns filled with different warrior, mage, or leader types. It is designed to help the reader understand what it is that makes these different creatures tick and what their motivating factors are for why they would encounter the PCs. This can make your adventures more meaningful and purposeful.

Overall: 9 out of 10
Classic Horrors Revisited is an excellent source book for horror focused/influenced adventures and campaigns. Outside of these types of campaigns, much of the content may be wasted. While all epic fantasy has some horror influence, this is designed for games that fall under dark fantasy, gothic fantasy, or horror fantasy. There is a lot of excellent material for Game Masters and at least 75% of the material can be used for systems other than Pathfinder.

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