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Book Of The Dead Pathfinder Review

book of the dead

Want to expand your library for Pathfinder? Looking for classic roles to play or monsters to add to your campaign? Well, the Book of the Dead is an excellent addition to the Pathfinder archives and a recommended supplement. In this tome you will find great examples of undead themed character and background options that will give you additional flavoursome material to utilise time and time again.

Undead In Roleplaying Campaigns

It’s a classic fantasy trope to use undead. Undead can be terrifying, powerful, cool and intriguing. Undead rarely disappoint if handled well and with the Book of the Dead, both players and the GM can now arm themselves with undead lore to create characters and monsters for any campaign.

Undead tend to come in several clear tiers of abilities and challenge. You have your basic minions like skeletons and zombies, up next you have ethereal types like shadows, spectres, ghosts and wraiths, then wights, mummies and the more intelligent undead up to likes of vampires and liches.

At whatever tier you are playing, undead serve to add danger through sheer mass of force, or through cunning, through deadly abilities or sheer magical power. Intelligent undead offer the potential to being seriously dangerous foes and yet may also offer roleplay opportunities to interact with them for mutual gain, if you dare try. In some cases, such as with ghosts or revenants, undead may provide great opportunities for a storyline involving exploration and roleplay interaction and possibly the opportunity to gain an ally, at least to help resolve specific story arcs and encounters.

Undead don’t have to simply exist as a content filler. As a DM, undead can have intricate backstories in their own right, especially with the more intelligent versions. Undead don’t just have to be useful for a side quest or obstacle, but they can form the core of a campaign. Great villains can be undead and their machinations and plots within plots offering a story of mystery and intrigue. There could be the possibility for undead to become patrons for the party, for their own nefarious purposes of course or the party could be quite villainous to begin with.

In the Pathfinder system, undead are different in some ways in comparison to undead in other RPG systems. Minions are still minions thematically and they still offer the same scope for interaction, but mechanically they are quite different and not to be underestimated. This is especially so at low level, but it continues to apply for some time as your characters develop. There is also a lot more variety, even for the humble skeleton, with rules on different abilities and skeleton types, for example options like soldiers, mages, wolf skeleton and beetle carapace. I love this attention to detail and the variety on offer allowing you as a DM to more finely craft a scenario or encounter.

But have you ever wanted to play an undead character? Or play a necromancer or regular adventurer with a focus on hunting undead like an exorcist or slayer? With the Pathfinder 2e Book of the Dead, these options are allowed as the there are rules that specifically cater for this interest. As I continue to explore the Pathfinder 2e system it is a key aspect of the ruleset that there is a wide variety of choice and this gives players great opportunity to fine tune their characters.

The Book Of The Dead

Pathfinder’s 2e Book of the Dead is well very and clearly laid out. It is refreshing to see a rulebook so well organised and easy to navigate. The pocket size makes it very convenient to use and despite the relatively small print, it is quite readable. I can remove my regular glasses and it reads with comfort.

Throughout the Book of the Dead there is a very nicely themed narrative, in the form of a tome, written by Geb, King of the nation of Geb in the world of Golarion. Geb was or is a necromancer and this tome reflects his study and practices.

The Book of the Dead is split into several key sections. The first of these, entitled Prayers for the Living discusses various new character options. It is in this section that you delve into the options for additional undead themed or relevant backgrounds such as grave robber or night watch. Next is a Slayer’s catalogue listing items of equipment relevant to fighting undead. One of the features here and with Pathfinder generally is that there is an impressive choice and detail on how it can be used, its rarity and importantly its cost to buy; the latter of which is not something you find in every RPG system and certainly not in the core rules. Pathfinder does a good job here and you listed are items ranging from Bottled sunlight to Undead detection dye. Also listed in the Slayer’s catalogue are folk remedies. I really like this inclusion and the DM is free to utilise this information as they see fit.

The section continues with various themed archetypes. Archetypes are character build options outside your chosen class. By taking an archetype feat instead of a class feat, you have the option to tailor your character further by stepping outside your class and thematically learn something new based on experience or necessity. In the Book of the Dead, you have several new archetypes available.

In the next section, titled Hymns for the Dead, the Book of the Dead detail necromancy and the reanimator archetype, before providing details on undead allies and companions. If that wasn’t enough there are several pages looking at deities of undeath and then guidance on playing undead characters including ghosts, ghouls, liches, mummies and vampires. Finally, in this section, there is further lore and guidance on ghosts and haunts. This really is a great font of inspiration for undead characters; something that is quite unusual in RPG systems and so represents a great selling point for the Pathfinder 2e system.

The Grim Crypt

The next hundred or so pages form the bestiary, again supported by a wonderful narrative. One of the fascinating features here is that rather than simply list an array of standard undead and their stats, the section begins with Undead adjustments, a clear guide on how to turn any creature into an undead variant. The bestiary is much more then than a simple list of monsters, with interesting asides touching on undead origins in folklore and background information. It is a large section of the Book of the Dead and it delivers a great list with a lot of variation and thematic options for your campaigns.

Lands Of The Dead

The penultimate section takes the reader on a journey to the lands of the undead. Here you will find commentary on the various lands where undead rule or remain a significant presence. This is a useful resource in its own right as it depicts subjects from history to politics in lands from Osirion to Ustalav.

March Of The Dead

The tome that is the Book of the Dead finishes with an undead flourish as you are left with a grim adventure involving an undead uprising set in three parts.


As I have come to note, the Pathfinder 2e series of rulebook are very well laid out and organised into logical and structured sections. There is a lot to take in, even for a relatively small tome, but there is no wasted space with useless information. What you read is all useful and inspirational, whether you are character building or designing campaigns and scenarios. It offers a lot of food for thought and fascinating detail and insight into undead.