Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Andoran, Spirit of Libery [RPG]

Andoran, Spirit of Liberty is a 2010 product in the Pathfinder Player's Companion line of books.  Andoran can best be summed up to newcomers as "the American colonies during the Revolutionary War", as everything from the common clothing styles to the emphasis on yeomen farmers to the deep-seated individual commitment to freedom are evocative of that time period.  One of the things I really like about Andoran is that it's a "good" country, but unlike those in most other fantasy settings (like Cormyr in the Forgotten Realms) it's not premised on the ideals of monarchy, chivalry, and nobility.  Instead, it's premised on ideals that (hopefully) are more prevalent today: equality, liberty, democracy, and justice.  The inside front cover is an attractive, full-color map of Andoran, while the inside back cover is a reproduction of the cover but without the title or logo.  The interior artwork isn't of the more refined quality of most of Paizo's later work, but it really gives you a feel for what the book is about.  The contents of the book are divided into seven sections.

Section 1 is a thirteen-page overview of Andoran.  Most of what you would expect to find is here, including information on the country's history, government, and military.  But there's also at least a few paragraphs each about material you might not expect, like banking and music.  The section does a great job giving one a real feel for what life in Adoran would be like.  I found most interesting the parts about Andoran's relationship with the Fey and on "Ongoing Problems" with the Darklands, kobolds, piracy, and more.  As with most of these early Player's Companions, a lot of this information is equally more even more essential for GMs.  This section includes two new regional traits (neither mechanically powerful but each reasonably flavourful) and five new achievement feats.  The concept of achievement feats seems to have withered in Pathfinder over the years, but I actually really like the notion that in-game actions could serve as a prerequisite for taking some feats (though the benefit of these achievement feats are often underwhelming compared to the difficulty in getting them).

Section 2 contains eight pages on the cities of Andoran.  The major city of Almas receives a few pages itself, and other cities covered in some detail are Augustana, Bellis, Carpenden, and Oregent.  Interestingly, these last three cities come with a few regional traits each.  This section concludes with one-paragraph descriptions of several other cities in Andoran.

Section 3 is a two-page "Combat" section that consists solely of the Steel Falcon prestige class.  Steel Falcons are one branch of the famed Eagle Knights, and are known for carrying out Andoren values in other countries.  It's a bit of an unusual prestige class in that players could conceivably take it starting at character level 3, and there are only five levels to it.  It's actually pretty powerful in terms of class abilities.

Section 4 is a two-page "Faith" section.  A brief overview of how some of the major deities are perceived in Andoran is included, but of more interest is the discussion of Talmandor, an avoral (a bird-like celestial creature) that is thought of as the country's spiritual patron.

Section 5, "Magic," consists of two pages of magical items that are very strongly tied to Andoran and four spells, three of which are themed around detecting and liberating others from magical charms and compulsions.

Section 6, "Persona", gives descriptions of two prominent NPCs in Andoran (Alysande Benedict, deceased, and Reginald Cormoth) and a full stat block for a "local hero" named Jamus Hainard, a halfling paladin of Erastil.

Section 7 is a "Social" section that discusses more of how Andorens view the world.  There wasn't a lot here that couldn't have been inferred from Section 1.

The strengths of this book are in its descriptions and flavour of Andoran, and players or GMs looking for that sort of material should be happy.  Players looking for major new mechanical options, however, are likely to go home disappointed compared to the various other books available.  Overall, I would say this was a solid book, just not an exemplary one.

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