The 14th issue of the eminent Wayfinder fanzine, by fans, for fans, clocks in at 80 pages, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 6 pages of advertisement, leaving us with 70 massive pages of content, so let’s take a look!
Okay. This is NOT a review in the traditional sense. Why? Because I am NOT going to analyze piece by piece, content by content everything featured herein – with a book as dense as Wayfinder #14, this would bloat the review to a level that would benefit no one, considering its free availability. What I’ll be doing instead, is first telling you a bit about Wayfinder…and what it means to me.
As some of you may know, I’ve come to Pathfinder pretty much by accident via Sinister Adventures; Disgruntled and annoyed, I took the mantle of reviewer mainly to showcase the gems out there and prevent a low-quality bloat in the 3.X days. What you may not know is that I’ve been pretty much considering Wayfinder a no-brainer if there ever was one – the option to utilize official fluff for the non-profit magazine ultimately meant that Wayfinder provided easy means of fleshing out some less detailed components of Golarion, plugging holes etc. – and it is this way I used the material, time and again.
As the magazine matured, though, Wayfinder took on a whole new dimension. I’m no stranger to other fan-created material – as an ardent Ravenloft-fanboy, I’ve of course been following (and continue to do so!9 the output of the Kargatane and later the fraternity of shadows and ultimately, both groups defined my conception of Ravenloft to at least the same extent, perhaps even more so, than the official releases. Beyond these, though, Wayfinder has reached a level of professionalism that is thoroughly impressive. What do I mean by that – download this magazine and see for yourself: Not only is the presentation and layout, lovingly crafted by Dain Nielsen and Garrett Guilotte a joy to behold, the vast array of extremely talented artists that contributed to this book manage to oftentimes reach a level of quality that could feature just as well in an official Paizo book.
Similarly, the editing is extremely concise – particularly considering how this is by fans, for fans. A brief glimpse at the editors produces names like Michael Sayre, Mike Welham, Will McCardell, Skeeter Green, Eric Hindley or Thomas LeBlanc, among others like Charlie Bell, Kalyna Conrad, Mark Garringer, Robert Gresham, Andrew Hoskins, Brent jans, Dave Mallon, Cassandra McQueen, Tom McQueen, John C. Rock, Matt Roth, David Schwartz, Dan Simons, Matt Williamson, Sarah Counts and Scott Janke – notice something? Yes, among these illustrious people would be some of the most talented designers out there, all of which have crafted all-time favorites for my game and enriched hundreds, nay, thousands of tables with their craft.
But here’s the thing: Why haven’t I reviewed Wayfinder before? Well, there are multiple reasons for that – basically, I started reviewing for 3pps to separate the wheat from the chaff – and Wayfinder, to me, is more an organic extension of Paizo’s Golarion. Then, I started being pretty high in demand regarding my reviews and had to cut some material on the back-burner – this was the fate of Wayfinder’s scheduled reviews. I’ve only deviated from this stance at the explicit demand of my readers…but know what? The time is now. Wayfinder deserves being properly recognized as the institution it is at this point.
To make this abundantly clear: If you have not yet downloaded any installment of Wayfinder, stop reading right now and do so – this series deserves the space on your HD.
So, taking this into account, what are my highlights in this issue? Well, the first would be none other than Clinton J. Boomer’s highly complex feats for harpies – lavishly illustrated by Beatrice Pelagatti. And yes, they feature the complex design and brutal monster rules we expect from Clinton’s work. Aspiring creature designers need to follow the easy advice provided by Anthony Adam – simple steps, yes, but still, a very interesting read – though I’d add the requirement of a unique selling proposition: At least one ability should do something that only the creature can pull off.
As a huge fan of travelogues of fantastical worlds, I was also pleasantly surprised by Michael Riter’s gazetteer of Sverengati and similarly, I enjoyed the goblin-module mirror image of PFS Scenario 4-01 from the Goblin perspective by Andrew Hoskins – a nice sidetrek with neat maps. Magic weapons for malevolent giants, crafted by Joe Kondrak and illustrated by Andrew DeFelice will certainly feature in my Giantslayer-campaign, once it get around to running that one, that is. I certainly will utilize the special qualities for monstrous armies J.J. Jordan.
As you know, I’m a sucker for poetry, so it should come as no surprise that I loved Liz Smith and Phoebe Harris’ contributions with the songs of the winter wolves or the seductive poems of fauns.
What truly made this book a must-have, at least for me, though, ultimately is the bestiary – the disemboweled troll prophets, the truly devastating, decapitating take on the grim reaper trope, the utterly disturbing wechselkind (changeling child) – here, the authors and artists pulled no punches and while reading this section, you’ll be thinking you’re looking at a Paizo book – something e.g. that also extends to e.g. the stunningly illustrated Minotaur NPCs crafted by Daniel Rust and perfectly captured by Tanyaporn Sansnit.
Editing and formatting are very good – while there are some minor hiccups here and there, this book is FREE – so no, I’m not going to complain about a wording not adhering 100% to the standard here and there. Layout, as mentioned before, is absolutely stunning and professional. And the same can be said about a majority of the artworks:
Catherine Batka, John Bunger, Darran Caldemeyer, Paul Chapman, Jeremy Corff, Liz Courts, Jess Door, Andrew DeFelice, Peter Fairfax, Lynnette Fetters, Erin Frye, Frank Hessefort, Chris Kimball, Jason Kirckof, Adam Koča, Danny Hedager Krog, Alberto Ortiz Leon, Mike Lowe, Dave Mallon, Stephen McAndrews, Dionisis Milonas, Jesse Mohn, Alex Moore, Beatrice Pelagatti, dodeqaa Polyhedra, Tanagorn Prateepsukjit, Basil Arnould Price, Nick Russell, Tanyaporn Sangsnit, Todd Westcot , and Stephen Wood – those are the names of the men and women who provided this book’s gorgeous art – and publishers, take a look; seriously, there are some absolutely stunning pieces herein! If you need good artists, there are quite a lot in here!
Of course, I have already noted a lot of authors and editors – but here is the complete list of contributing authors, for your perusal:
Anthony Adam, Gabriel Almer, Danny Atwood, Clinton J. Boomer, Jake Burnett, Dixon Cohee, Denis Faupel, Robert Feather, Benjamin Fields, Aaron Filipowich, Nik Geier, Amy C. Goodenough, Wojciech Gruchała, Phoebe Harris, Andrew Hoskins, Scott Janke, Jenny Jarzabski, J.J. Jordan, Joe Kondrak, Isabelle Lee, John Leising, Matteo Lorenzi, Ron Lundeen, Nicholas Milasich, Matt Morris, Patchen Mortimer, Michael Riter, Daniel Rust, Jeff Sexton, Liz Smith, Kendra Leigh Speedling, Margherita Tramontano, Ian Turner, Nick Volpe, Brendan Ward, Ben Warren, and Christopher Wasko. Similarly: Publishers, take a look and scout talent here!
Finally, Paris Crenshaw and Tim Nightengale would be the editors-in-chief that ultimately made this come together. I take a bow to the endless hours of work you put into this book.
All of you fine ladies and gentlemen, from the bottom of my cold, black reviewer’s heart – thank you. Thank you for the work and passion you put into Wayfinder. You create a free, high-quality e-zine that breathes more life into the game we all know and love and your passion does show. I consider Wayfinder a celebration not only of Paizo’s IP, but also of the community that makes such a book possible.
If my rambling above was no clear indicator – download this book; nay, download the whole series – it is free and well worth the space on your hard drive. It’s not perfect, sure, but it does provide creativity, from fiction to crunch.
Please picture me taking a bow to the community and its collective dedication that makes this book, this whole series, possible in the first place. I award this 5 stars + seal of approval and slink back into the shadows, hoping that my humble little review made some of you out there check out this wonderful e-zine.
You can get Wayfinder here on paizo!