Welcome to the table!
In one of my weekly games, I have an entire party consisting of a variety of undead and their only living friend, a goblin girl detective. This party is currently learning to work for an organization of enlightened undead whose main focus is to assist those who selflessly serve others. There is a mana-vampire, two ghouls, and a grave-knight ( along with the aforementioned living goblin girl detective ) and let me tell you, once a week this party delights in their misadventures as they navigate The Lands of The Dead.
As far back as 2002, I have regularly had one or more players playing undead PCs in my games. Books like D&D’s 3rd Editions Libris Mortis or Pathfinder 1st Edition Undead Unleashed, Undead Revisited, and Occult Adventures have never been far from my go-to grabs when plotting out the next six to eight months of an adventure. I still revisit these books regularly, regardless of what system we are playing.
All of that is to say that The Undead, The Necropolis, and The Lands of The Dead feature heavily across all of my campaigns. This foundation of understanding is important for what I want to tell you next…
Pathfinder’s Second Edition Book of The Dead may be the most well thought out and put together d20 undead-focused book I have put my hands on to date.
Out of the gate, the cover is done by a favorite of mine, Wayne Renolds. His work has served as a framework for the imagination of so many of our table’s most memorable encounters.
However, even after you take some time soaking in the beautiful wall-worthy piece of art that is the front cover of this book, the information contained within is also such a treat for Storytellers and players alike.
In classic Pathfinder form, there are brilliant bits of lore presented as firsthand accounts and they add such a depth to the book itself. As an example, there is a section on Graveknight lore that talks about Broke Crusaders and the passage…
“To my surprise, their twisted identification as noble champions had been so imprinted into them that their souls clung to their armor-like bloodstains.”
Had me actually saying, out loud to an empty room “Oh, that is so rad.”
That is but a nugget of the flavor and fluff text found in the pages of this handbook.
Beyond the lore, there is also a well-rounded collection of rules for playing various flavors of the undead with ghost, ghoul, lich, mummy, skeleton, vampire, and zombie archetypes. These archetypes come with fully fleshed out ( or unfleshed in the case of the skeleton ) feats, suggestions for how to best role-play the particular undead, bits of lore specific to each type of undead, and more!
Further, into the landscape of this beautiful book of horrors, there is a really cleanly laid out bestiary of creatures to weave into your weekly gaming sessions. The Child of Urgathoa is a personal new favorite of mine bringing the Pallid Plage and devastating Reap attack against those who find themselves at cross purposes with the Lady of Dispare.
Another really fun offering is the Grappling Spirt. This spectral wrestler resembles a luchador whose mask remains tangible while the rest of their form is quasi-corporeal. The Teleporting Clothesline ability is devastating and adds some nice flavor to the typical blink-like or ethereal jaunt-style attacks. As someone who has a whole league of underground wrestling bards and performers baked into his world this concept for sure has a home at my table.
Further diving into the Book of The Dead the reader is treated to some great world-building bits of lore about Golarion’s Lands of The Dead. Those include Nemret Noktoria, the kingdom of the ghouls (a personal favorite playground for many adventures), the temple city of Mzali and its undead child-king Walkena, and Osirion and its mummy-haunted pyramids and constantly shifting sands.
Within these pages is even contained an adventure for a group of 3rd level players titled “March of The Dead.” While I write most of my own adventures and collect classic Pathfinder and Dungeons & Dragon modules, I have, on more than one occasion, found myself unable to sleep and sitting in my office reading various adventure paths and March of The Dead does not disappoint in that respect. It would be a great weekend game for those who run pre-made adventures and enjoy a little taste of horror and mystery at their table.
As a book in my collection, Book of The Dead looks amazing on my P2 shelf as I slowly build up my P2 collection of tangible tomes. As a resource for storytelling, it is without a doubt a new go-to guide for inspiration and story-craft. As a handbook for Pathfinder Second Edition, I can not stress enough how great of an addition this will be to both player and storyteller’s arsenal of books.
This book is easily a critical hit, natural 20’s all the way down.
You can get your copy of Pathfinder Second Editions Book of The Dead at this link , or at your Local Gaming or Hobby Shop.
Until next time, may your counterspells always stop the fireball before it eradicates the halflings farm.