“Oh dream weaver, I believe you can get me through the night.” Woe betide the man who says that about the subject of this book, the eponymous Belladonna, the Face of Unrequited Love.
This 18-page PDF is for the Pathfinder RPG, and is specifically meant to work with the Coliseum Morpheuon adventure/sourcebook from Rite Publishing. It doesn’t take much work to port this character to another setting, though, so don’t be put off if you don’t own the latter book.
Opening with a brief summary of her past and her current outlook, Belladonna is a literal living nightmare, but not one that causes terror so much as one that causes despair; she’s the literal incarnation of unrequited love. Her rules for dreamburning are presented rather oddly though, as they seem to describe what her hope, goal, and aspirations look like rather than telling us what they actually are. It’s not hard to figure out the meaning, though, so it’s not really a point against the product, just a slight oddity.
We’re told a little about her place of business, as well as given some DCs to find out more about her, and a sidebar on how to get her to interact with the PCs, before we move on to her stat block. Now, I personally don’t think that Pathfinder is all that complicated of a game, but in this instance I had a slight bit of sympathy for those who think it is. To put it simply, I don’t have Secrets of the Taskshaper, which presents the class that Belladonna has levels in (that is, the taskshaper class). This made reading her stat block slightly more difficult than I’m accustomed to.
Now, to be fair, all of the class abilities that Belladonna has are fully written out, so they’re usable in the game, and a careful read-through will dispel pretty much all the confusion you might feel if you’ve never read that sourcebook. Make no mistake, you can use this character as-is; it just feels like you’re playing with a bit of a handicap. And of course, none of this applies if you have Secrets of the Taskshaper.
Seven new feats are presented, four of which are taskshaper-specific, with the other presenting some nice utility abilities (e.g. sense magic naturally). Two new magic items round things out before we come to the next major section in the book: magical alcohol.
I have to admit that this was by far my most favorite part of this book. Almost a dozen new drinks are presented here, and all are very colorful in their names and abilities. From ambrosia itself to juggernaut juice to pixie clover wine to good old rotgut whiskey, these are drinks your PCs won’t soon forget! Especially since each has a specific effect (though not always a good one – it’s a poor fool who wants to prove their mettle by drinking rotgut). Interestingly, each of these drinks has two ways to create them, one via Craft Wondrous Item, and the other with Brew Potion. Prices are given for various quantities served, and there’s a handy chart noting how much each size contains. A sidebar notes that you should also enforce whatever intoxication and addiction rules your game uses.
Following this we’re given two lower-level stat blocks for Belladonna (which, interestingly, have different titles – a touch I found to be a fun little extra), and the Nightmare and Nymph Child templates.
Overall, Belladonna’s character is one that’s rather obliquely described; I’m not sure I totally understood what it was for her to be the incarnate nightmare of unrequited love. Similarly, there are some gaps in regards to the tavern and gambling hall she runs, with mostly the liquors being the main drawing point. None of these are terrible omissions, however, and are easily filled in. Moreover, once you dig into Belladonna’s stat block, she really has the potential to become almost any nightmare a character has, with a lot of options in combat. Add in the role-playing potential inherent in her character and the establishment she runs, and she’s got a lot to offer your game. The latest face at the Tarnished Souk is a pretty one, but don’t get taken in by Belladonna, the Face of Unrequited Love.
[5 of 5 Stars!]