This installment of the Faces of the Tarnished Souk series is 18 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of advertisements and 1 page SRD, leaving 13 pages for the 3 incrantions of Belladonna, so let's check her out!
The trope of the femme fatale is one of the most poignant, vivid and alluring ones in existence, at least to me - the strong female who uses seduction and clever manipulations to attain her goals without truly masking the sense of underlying danger her company spells for her suitors makes for a powerful image that has sparked many a great narration. While these characters are often underrepresented in fantasy gaming due to a focus not on combat, but on wits, this installment offers a twist on the trope that is both exciting and charming - players should beware, though, SPOILERS abound.
At her lowest level (CR 7) incarnation, Belladonna gets the nymph-child template and her base-class already elicited a grin from my side - after all, which class to better represent the trope of the femme fatale than RiP's excellent and very modular taskshaper class? For those of you unfamiliar with it, fret not, all the information necessary to run Belladonna are contained herein. The shapeshifting, ability mimicking and pool-based highly versatile wechselbalg-class is nevertheless a pdf I'd recommend you to buy.
Her mid-level incarnation adds the nightmare creature template and clocks in at CR 13, but it is here I should mention that, of course, the lady comes with one page of advice and information how to use her as well as dreamburning rules. The cool trend of tying the interaction of the Tarnished Souk's legends continues, as she may be the sweetheart and ultimate downfall of the werewolf rebel Le Loup Solitaire.
Her highest-level incarnation clocks in at CR 17 and has a neat plethora of options that might make her one of the very best agents imaginable.
The additional content that accompanies her makes this a must-buy for fans of the taskshaper in particular - 7 new feats, several of which deal with the taskshaper's moment of chance mechanic are provided - very nice! We also get 2 magical items as well as my favorite section of this pdf - magical libations.
While the dangers of alcohol are evident to almost anyone and most campaigns have a rule or another how to handle drunk characters and iconic bar brawls, magical ales and wines nevertheless are among the painfully underrepresented items in magical fantasy worlds - this FoTS remedies this lack at least partially by offering 11 magical libations ranging from benevolent to downright despicable. The write-ups come with a table of containers and the amount therein, cool details on how the drinks are served, prices for cups, gallons and barrels and construction requirements. The drinks also come with 2 construction requirements, offering some versatility when it come sto the drinks.
Editing and formatting are very good, no glitch impeded my ability to enjoy or understand this pdf. Layout adheres to the classic b/w-two-column RiP-standard and the pdf comes with bookmarks.
While I was not too impressed by the artwork (not due to the fanservice, but due to me not liking this particular drawing), that's nothing I'd hold against the pdf at this price-point. While Belladonna's templates are not the most complex ones I've seen in the FoTS-series, she has other "virtues", i.e. the support of the excellent taskshaper-class (which makes her abilities quite uncommon and is guaranteed to surprise your PCs) as well as the magical drinks make this a very worthwhile purchase, especially if you also happen to own Le Loup Solitaire's pdf. When all is said and done, Belladonna is indeed an excellent representation of the femme fatale and a more than worthy and cool addition to the Tarnished Souk's menagerie. My final verdict will thus be 5 stars.
[5 of 5 Stars!]