Rite Publishing’s Coliseum Morpheuon was a watershed product for the Pathfinder community, providing not only an excellent mini-campaign specifically designed for high-level play, but also providing a great new backdrop for campaigning. This was best highlighted by the incredibly colorful and diverse cast of characters that inhabited the city around the Coliseum. Given that, I was quite pleased to see that Rite Publishing is expanding that roster with their Faces of the Tarnished Souk line, which continues with Dark Lady Ninyante, Mistress of Venom.
A fifteen page PDF file, the product is fully bookmarked, which is always a plus, even for shorter books. The page borders are quite ornate, in Rite’s signature style, which may make printing somewhat difficult. Several black and white interior illustrations are spread throughout the book, showing Ninyante herself and a few of her toys, among other pictures.
The book opens with an overview of Lady Ninyante and her place in the City of the Coliseum. A poison-merchant and socialite, a sidebar covers several ways to intermingle her into a campaign with the PCs – delightfully, there’s also information specific to Coliseum Morpheuon, as it outlines plot threads from that book, and lists Ninyante’s dreams (for dreamburning rules).
Ninyante herself is presented next, providing a stat block that’s every bit worthy of its 21 Challenge Rating. Following this are two new feats, one to grant a creature the Poison Use ability, the other of which lets you make a poison specific to a creature; there’s even a way it lets you poison a creature normally immune to poison, on top of that! Further are three new magic items, all of which Ninyante herself uses. I quite liked these, as one of the big draws among the NPCs of the Coliseum was how they’re not only unique, but have unique stats and equipment. The PCs shouldn’t know exactly what they’re up against, as they’re just a few more fishes in a very big pond.
We’re then treated to two more stat blocks for Ninyante, each at lower CRs. It’s never explicitly stated, but these are probably for campaigns that want a lower-level NPC to use. I can understand that, but perhaps more could have been done here, like outlining that these were Ninyante as she was gaining power and rising up through the ranks of the Tarnished Souk.
Helpfully, the book then lists in full the two templates used in Ninyante’s construction: the Amalgam and Spellpowered templates. While both of these are from other sourcebooks, it was nice to see them here (and updated to Pathfinder as well). I consider this a bonus, since these are among the most versatile of all templates – one lets you merge two creatures into a new creature, and the other lets you assign any number of spell-like abilities.
Overall, this book adds a great new character in the tradition of Coliseum Morpheuon, helping to round out and present new opportunities for such a rich, evocative location. Ninyante, if used as more than a direct antagonist, presents some great opportunities for characters to make an uneasy ally or deadly new enemy among the Coliseum. And like other NPCs in that place, she can easily cross paths with the characters simply because she has a relationship with someone else the PCs might know. Even if you don’t play Coliseum Morpheuon, this is still an exotic, powerful character that’ll add a lot to your game. Pick your poison with this latest entry among the Faces of the Tarnished Souk!