Monday, September 28, 2015

Just How Adequate is "The Adequate Commoner"?

So, I was asked to review this product months ago, and every time I tried to get around to it a piece of the sky would fall, preventing me from doing so. So, today, I'd like to present my thoughts on The Adequate Commoner, which is a 3rd party Pathfinder book from Misfit Studios.

What could possibly go wrong?

What Is "The Adequate Commoner"?

All right, first things first. The Adequate Commoner is a handbook for players who want to de-power their games. This is a book for parties who think NPC classes are given entirely too much power, and who really want to achieve victory through nothing more than careful planning, the right gear, and a ridiculous amount of luck. It is a book that lays out class options if you want all of your PCs to have a terrible BAB progression, nearly non-existent weapon proficiency, almost no armor use, and barely more than average hit points.

If that's your kind of jam, then keep on reading.

The stated goal of the adequate commoner is to issue your players a challenge; can you still become heroes without all of the class abilities and swagger that come with adventuring classes? Can you stare death in the face, knowing that you are not powerful adventurers who've trained their whole lives, or been gifted with strange powers? And, of course, will all of this lead to deeper roleplaying experiences, new stories, and more compelling characters?

I don't know... maybe.

Does It Work?

The Adequate Commoner is full of flavor, and it shows a lot of ways you can make commoners surprisingly effective (especially at low levels). By focusing on skills, attributes, equipment, and racial abilities (items which the book argues are often afterthoughts for more traditional adventurers), this book forces players to find alternative methods to rise to the challenge of living in a dangerous fantasy world.

However, The Adequate Commoner should be thought of as a completely separate game from traditional Pathfinder. The reason for that is because everyone at the table has to agree to play commoners, and the DM has to be able to craft an adventure that suits these characters both thematically and mechanically. Commoners are people with average, everyday jobs, and an adventure needs to provide enough of a hook to make them leave their places in society in order to combat a threat, or chase a macguffin. You know, like defending their town from a goblin incursion, or throwing a magic ring into a volcano. You also can't be out adventuring with three commoners and a wizard, otherwise three quarters of the party are going to be the sidekicks to the one adventurer's quest.

It's a functional idea, and the book lays out creative solutions players may never have thought of before. It won't appeal to everyone, though, since not all gamers want to play Pathfinder on Nightmare mode. If it sounds like your cup of tea, though, then check out The Adequate Commoner for yourself!

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  1. My Sunday morning game is run using this. I have to say that it Does succeed in the bringing focus off of class abilities and down to race, feats, traits, and equipment. My group is enjoying being in the suck, lots of RP and it allows them to brush up on rules we normally forget about or handwave away.

    Your party will definitely be either all human or a wide variety of non-human though. I highly recommend starting at 1st level, using opponents that do non-lethal, and restricting gold/purchases (my players HATE the city's Tax Men now) until you get a feel for the balance and progression of a game of commoners. The game only gets orders-of-magnitude harder as they level, retraining (slowly) or multiclassing into other NPC classes is how I plan on letting them power up, though my group hasn't reached that point yet.

    I have a lot of ideas I plan on annoying Mr. Perkins with, once certain other projects are complete.

  2. Commoner games are fun one shots when you want a small break from the campaign. It could even be ties into the overarching story. Possibilities endless.

    Added this book to my wishlist. Thanks for the review.