Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Intrigue - Tabletop and Board Games Review

Admittedly, it has been a bit since we last reviewed a Pathfinder expansion, but I have to say that right off of the bat I was intrigued by this one because it was offering a bunch of new roles to the core line of Pathfinder rules. By and large, I liked what Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Intrigue has to offer, though there are a few weak points in the formula that hold it back from being one of the best core rules books in the series.

Probably the most notable addition to the Pathfinder series is the introduction of the vigilante. It has you splitting your time and roles between a cloaked hero and a member of society who does what he or she can to stay unnoticed by those around them. With this comes a variety of archetypes for many of the classes. Probably the most interesting aspect of this book is the way it leverages the use of social skills.

If you are looking for a rule book that is focused on combat, this is where Ultimate Intrigue will probably let you down. While there are plenty of skills and feats in here, there is an obvious focus on non-combat ability as well. The first chapter focuses on establishing the vigilante class as a concept. The archetypes are somewhat less effective as some are incredibly cool while others could best be described as lacking. The rogue ones tend to be my favorite, but the rogue class has always been one that made more use of soft skills in a tabletop roleplaying situation.

The second chapter delves into the aforementioned feats, and most of these are of the non-combat variety. Most of these were no doubt imagined as part of the Ultimate Intrigue package, but I can see a lot of use for these in non-intrigue settings as well. There might need to be a few tweaks applied here and there, but it is generally good stuff. Good, but kind of dry. This chapter was a bit more like a glossary for feats.

Our third chapter is when you start getting into the actual meat of the roleplaying campaign. There are some cool systems in place here, with Heists being the highlight. It gives you some actual game context for some of the more intricate spells as well, which is hugely helpful since admittedly there is a lot of very complex content in this book. Perhaps complex is not the right term, but because they are going for content outside of just combat, a lot of these systems take some getting used to. This one leads right into the fourth chapter that lays out the different kinds of conflict resolutions you can have to non-combat situations. There is a verbal duel option that is interesting, but something that I would not want to lean on too often. The ability to use diplomacy is a nice way to add layers to the idea of lying to people and more than just a basic check. These two chapters really go hand-in-hand quite nicely.

The fifth and sixth chapters cover the nuts and bolts of spells and items respectively. Good appendix style chapters that do not offer a lot for the players, but come in handy for the game master. In some ways, I feel as though the second chapter should have been back here. I get why it was located where it was, so it could help set the foundation for what is to come, but it also feels somewhat like a utility chapter for reference, like the last two.

All in all, the parts work well together, but some of the systems are more interesting than others. Some of the archetypes are really cool - the alchemist being my favorite, but some of the vigilante ones are pretty hit and miss. The verbal dueling is also a system that seems better in principle than it does in practice. I would not want to lean on it too heavily during a session because it could become somewhat restrictive to actual roleplaying. Key moments are fine, but I could see this system getting used too often and dragging down the session. Thankfully heists are a lot of fun and insert well into a variety of campaign situations.

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Intrigue works best as a means of enhancing the social aspects of a Pathfinder adventure. That is not to say the combat is completely neglected and a lot of these systems would not work well in a traditional campaign. However, if you are looking for something a little different, I think Ultimate Intrigue should work quite nicely in a pinch. The book is of very high quality, with a firm spine, hard covers and the usually excellent illustrations to help compliment the written materials.

Game Information

Tabletop RPG

Article by Nick
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