Sometimes the idea of playing the truly lawful character can be appealing. Or maybe playing a truly chaotic character really grabs your interest. Sometimes trying to find that very fine line between justice and revenge can be an interesting character trait. More interestingly, the idea of trying to bring order and justice to the world while fighting against the base desires and impulses of man sounds like a character concept to you! Whatever your reasons for playing Judge, Jury and Executioner in your Pathfinder game – Little Red Goblin Games thought of you when they wrote Law & Order!
Law & Order is a book devoted to Lawful and chaotic characters with weapons for either and new Lawful and Chaotic classes for those who really want some extremism! Further there is a new Prestige class – Kinslayer which while purely chaotic, can be good or evil depending on how you decide.
The book really did grab my interest when I first got my hands on it. The idea of the class they mention called “The Judge” made me pick up a copy of this little expansion and had a good nosy through it. The image they show smack bang in the middle of the Judge description however is ever so slightly misleading. You see they have this fully plated up warrior of Law staring straight at you with huge gravel in hand (a new weapon introduced in this book). All I can think was “I AM THE LAW” and it really got me reading! However as you go through the Judge class you discover that they only start with light armour proficiency, which made me just a little bit sad. At least he does start with proficiency in using nearly any hammer (including the gravel).
The Judge class really does have some interesting ideas popping up in there. With the ability Conviction that could prove really quite useful when in urban settings working for the militia. The idea of at beginning of your turn swinging your weapon to point at the enemy and screaming at the top of your lung “You have been found guilty!” and causing yourself to get awesome bonuses against the convicted just sound really quite awesome.
However, the spell list for the Judge leaves a lot to be desired. It is really themed to go with the idea of the Judge uses every ability in his arsenal to track down those fiends who have dared commit a criminal act while he is in town, but unless your game is themed around this idea – once the judge gets into a dungeon they could find themselves with a spell list that isn’t really endearing to the situation. This could only be because the Judge gets a very small list of spells known, although they do cast their spells like a sorcerer. Further from this, while not the design of a Judge, it is worth noting they have very few actual direct damage spells in their list.
I think this is what confuses me the most about this class. They don’t seem particularly strong as a melee fighter, but neither are they particularly strong in the magic spell flinging. These guys are really designed to go ahead and find one single quarry that they know are guilty and throw bonus after bonus on their side to bring them to justice. They can be really quite powerful in this particular situation if you take the right proficiencies and feats. I would really love to give one a go, to see how they would work in a traditional adventuring party… but there might be another problem.
Normally every party will have a rogue that will help them deal with those pesky traps and locks that will face them in the giant tower of doom. However Rogues are not known as the most honest and law abiding folks and this is where you could find problems selecting the Judge. There is a big bold note in the Judge class warning that these two classes aren’t really meant to work together, nor are they designed to be friends and trusting of one another. There are ways you can handle this (the Rogue was originally being taken by the Judge to face justice, and things got in the way, or some other similar scenario) but don’t expect your party to have a friendly cohesive time if both of these classes are put in close proximity.
Of course, there is another, complete other end of the spectrum class you can look at, the convict. It is actually a substitution class which is given more detail in the “Substitution class” book written by Little Red Goblin Games as well. Thankfully they do give a description on how this should work, but to be able to use it fully you will need to buy this second book to understand the substitution rules fully.
The idea of the convict is the career criminal. Years of incarceration have left this particular character with a rather bitter streak towards the law and everything about it. The class itself seems rather powerful when thrown in with another class on top, but as I haven’t read the substitution class book, I can’t really get a full measure of the impact this would have when, say, playing a fighter then taking a few substitution levels in Convict.
Finally there is the prestige class the Kinslayer, a purely chaotic alignment. I have to be honest and say this prestige class really doesn’t sell itself to me. This class is based around a pure hatred to your kin (whether that is the entire race, or a particular group within that race can be chosen as you want) and has a large selection of abilities to support that. This is truly an excellent roleplaying opportunity but would I select it as a prestige class for my character? I probably wouldn’t because the roleplaying advantages that could be gained from this class can also be attained by just choosing your background and selecting a different prestige class. The abilities given could be superb in an urban setting, but in the traditional roleplaying adventure would again find themselves useless in a dungeon of random creatures.
This book is really themed for a particular kind of adventure setting. Unless your judge will accuse random creatures found within dungeons of being guilty it could find itself at a disadvantage. However within a town setting this could be a glorious class to play. The convict seems really powerful but the drawbacks of not even thinking of having them in the same party as any lawful character could be enough to encourage others to avoid it. The prestige class again seems like an excellent roleplaying class to take but again would have to be taken in a particular adventure setting of an urban theme. To have all those prestige class abilities only getting to use them on the rare occasion you are dealing with those of the same race, could result in a few levels wasted most of the time
They seem like great ideas for a real good roleplaying theme, but could be difficult to pull off unless the DM really takes into account the characters and the environments they excel in. Throw in some spelling mistakes and other parts that are confusing (in the Judge class, it talks about a new ability that the judge gains, and suddenly it talks about how monks gain DR? What?) And unfortunately I can’t give this book the gleaming report I really hoped it would have if I look at it from a player’s point of view.
I give this book a 4/5 but only if you are planning to use it for your NPCs. I wouldn’t take this book as something your players should be looking at unless you are building an adventure built around using these classes. I have found the book to be rather inspiring for future campaigns and certainly for NPCs I would be using in the future instead. I love the idea of a party that comes across a Lawful Evil Judge and have to deal with the consequences of the actions of this particular corrupted individual. Then you have the Kinslayer they need to track down and deal with, and the prestige class can give some excellent abilities for this Big Bad. The convict can also make an awesome NPC for your players to come up against with the new abilities provided for them. If you look at the book not for your players and more for your NPCs, it gets a whole lot better in adding brand new characters into your towns. Imagine a second a town with a Convict NPC and Judge NPC both fighting against each other and your players have to choose a side? That could be an entire adventure right there, and I think that is where this book could and really should be used.