Welcome to Guidance, Private Sanctuary’s source for tips and techniques for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, written by Everyman Gamer Alexander Augunas. Today, we’re going to be talking about my style and guidelines for reviewing products.
While I think most folks know that I’m a third-party designer (It’s written at the bottom of EVERY article I write!) many probably don’t know that I used to do a LOT of product reviewing on Paizo.com. As a matter of fact, my door “in” with Creighton Broadhurst of Raging Swan Press was through my product reviews. He started sending me stuff to review and I got to thinking, “Hey, I could totally write some of this stuff!” and Village Backdrop: Vulgruph’s Hollow was born.
That said, the real reason I love reviewing products is the same reason that I love writing my GM Guide articles: I’m a teacher at heart and I absolutely love helping to inform other gamers. So now that Everyman Gaming is up and running, I thought to myself, “Hey! Wouldn’t it be swell if I totally flagellate myself a little bit and try to write product reviews for my blog every so often?”
Don’t answer that question.
Before I start reviewing products, here are some notes about the process I’ll be using:
- Just like my product plugs, I’m going to be promoting my product reviews on Paizo.com or on Facebook with the exception of the Everyman Gaming Facebook Page. Product reviews will always be on a day that I don’t have a product planned (i.e. any day except Monday, Wednesday, or Friday) but you’ll never know when I’ll publish them or how often I’ll publish them unless you follow the Facebook group. Is this a shameless tactic to try and get you to follow my Facebook page? Yes it is, and if the public demand is loud enough I’ll also start posting about my updates on Twitter too.
- I’m going to be reviewing both Paizo products and Third Party Publishing products; whatever tickles my fancy, really.
- I WILL be accepting product requests from my readers as well as publishers. If you’re a publisher and you want me to review your product, however, you’re going to have to provide me with a copy of the product that you want me to review because my review is essentially advertisement for you. I’m not going to take the time to review your product AND hand over my money to you in order to do it just because you asked nicely. (Remember publishers; Owen K.C. Stephens is an exception, not a rule!)
- Even if you give me your product for free, I will review it when I have the time. I won’t keep you waiting too long and I will give you the exact date of when I plan to publish my review.
- My review will go live here at Guidance first. I’ll also be posting my reviews on the d20pfsrd.org website page as well as DriveThruRPG, but the formatting will mostly depend on the website in question.
And with those rules underway, let’s take a quick look at the format I’ll be using in giving my reviews:
The first aspect of every product that I look at is its crunch. ‘Crunch’ can be defined as its game mechanics. Whether this is stat blocks in a Bestiary, rogue talents in the Genius Guide to the Talented Rogue, or magic items in a magic item compendium, anything that involves game rules will be discussed here. This section is rated out of five points, with five being absolute perfection and one being a terrible show.
After crunch comes flavor, which is the product’s story elements, setting information, visual elements, and characterization. For example, if I’m looking at the Advanced Player’s Guide, a crunch dominant book, the flavor section will talk about the imagery provided by the product’s base classes as well as the story elements present on the chapter pages. This section is rated out of five points, with five being absolute perfection and one being a terrible show.
Texture is the final aspect of a product that I look at. Texture comes down to the product’s visual style and layout. This is an aspect of publishing that I think is often criminally overlooked in most product reviews. If it’s mentioned at all, its usually handled as a sentence or two and as someone who has wrestled with layout before, I understand how vital a good layout is to product design. I want to make sure those layout artists get their dues. This section is rated out of five points, with five being absolute perfection and one being a terrible show.
Score & Final Thoughts
At the very end of the product, the three scores are averaged together for a final score out of five points. Then I’ll wrap up with some closing thoughts. Huzzah!
That’s it for my thoughts on product reviews. What do you think? How do you determine if a product is a must-have or a flop? What do you look for in a good RPG product? How do you determine if you want to purchase a product? Leave your answers and comments below and I’ll see you next time!
Alexander “Alex” Augunas has been playing roleplaying games since 2007, which isn’t nearly as long as 90% of his colleagues. Alexander is an active freelancer for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and is best known as the author of the Pact Magic Unbound series by Radiance House. Alex is the owner of Everyman Gaming, LLC and is often stylized as the Everyman Gamer in honor of Guidance’s original home. Alex’s favorite color is blue, his favorite Pathfinder Race/Class combination is kitsune noble scion, and he is best known for playing laser tag on his birthday.