Wicked Fantasy is a really bad Pathfinder RPG race book.
What it is instead is a really good fantasy RPG book.
And that's why you should absolutely buy it.
Let's break it down.
(Up front, I've met John and enjoyed playing RPGs with him a few times, interviewed him about Wicked Fantasy and other projects on Out of Character, and I backed this Kickstarter.)
The first Wicked Fantasy "race supplements" came out some time ago. I got copies of them in the DrivethruRPG Featured Reviewer queue, I read them, and didn't review them. The reason why was because I couldn't see how the race described could fit into a Pathfinder game. D&D3 and 3.5 were pretty generic, but not completely so - Pathfinder is much less generic and has a much more clear aesthetic for its "classic fantasy races". In the context of its classes and world (Golarion), it makes sense and is fine. So the best "new elves!" or "new orcs!" supplements for Pathfinder didn't stray too much from the Pathfinder aesthetic, whatever new ground it broke was right next door to Pathfinder, so I could put the "new orcs!" into the game world I bought from a different publisher last week, or in 1986, and it would be fine. To really be a functional product in this sense you need to not to be too different.
The orcs of Wicked Fantasy were so different that I couldn't envision putting them into most of the fantasy worlds I liked. Just try envisioning them in the Forgotten Realms, for example, one of my all-time loves. There are many good things about the Forgotten Realms, but thematic boldness sure as hell isn't one of them. Wicked Fantasy orcs would stand out like a sore thumb in such an environment. Similarly in quasi-modernistic Golarion, faux-noir Eberron, or gloom-and-doom Midnight. It didn't mean Wicked Fantasy orcs were bad, it just meant that to tell if they were good, I'd have to work up a whole fantasy world around them and I'm a broken down old man, not a young, vigorous gamer like the kids today, I don't have time for all that. So I reluctantly set them aside - as really exciting and interesting as they were, I just couldn't fairly review them.
A few months later I got word the Kickstarter was coming out. I lamented this indecision of mine regarding the quality of Wicked Fantasy material to my wife who said I was being stupid, "You just said you really liked it, so put some money in it, what's the issue?" She's always right about these things.
So I dropped enough cash on it to get the hardcopy, shut my eyes and waited. (This is the best way to handle Kickstarters by the way.)
When I finally got the full Wicked Fantasy book, everything changed. Now I could see the orcs in the context of a fully fleshed out world - these orcs make thematic sense next to these humans, these halflings, these gnomes. Indeed, the full Wicked Fantasy collection actually gives you a fully fledged fantasy world that, with the community creation rules already in the D&D and Pathfinder DMGs, is absolutely playable.
It's interesting seeing a fantasy world presented through the lens of its races. "Race" isn't the best word for all this stuff, but "species" doesn't work because that's scientific and these worlds aren't, and anyway you can totally get your elf girlfriend pregnant, so IDK. D&D calls it "race" so that's what we ended up calling it. In Wicked Fantasy, the traits of each of the races are intertwined with their origins, their legends, their history and most importantly to play, their cultures. This is a game about cultures, and characters who emerge from these cultures will be EXTREMELY fun to play with each other.
That's really what it comes down to. Wicked Fantasy is still about being adventurers - still about going into dungeons or across wildernesses - still about battling monsters and bandits - but the motivations of the characters become more fleshed out by a choice that normally just adjusts a few ability scores (death to ability scores) and changes your appearance.
The ten races covered are humans, elves, gnomes, dwarves, orcs, ratmen, kobolds, gnolls and goblins.
Here are a couple of examples that should give you some idea of why I see these cultures as so fruitful for actual Pathfinder/D&D3 play:
Humans value philosophy and knowledge - they labored under many tyrannies until they liberated themselves, created city-states and a great elected Senate to rule, along with controlling the money supply and other modernizations. However, human lands now face corruption from without and from within. They need heroes to revitalize or challenge their values. Human clerics and inquisitors may champion philosophy and intellect instead of veneration of the gods.
Halflings (called "haffuns") fled a terrible underground menace two hundred years ago and almost instantly insinuated themselves into surface society as servants and dogsbodies. They value social (and sometimes even physical!) invisibility, secrecy and partnership. When they die their families perform a ritual to keep their ghosts in the home they served. However, many challenge this culture in different ways since they have reached the surface. Their families give them bonuses depending on what sorts of professions their families have (the first time the Profession skills have ever been worth anything in D&D3 history.)
Just these two should show you the wealth of roleplaying opportunities afforded adventurers in the world of Wicked Fantasy - the human who blindly serves a decraying Republic bickering with a halfling who sees too well the injustices of the system....or perhaps a human who prefers the cool intellect of philosophy to the warm emotions of hearth and service advocated by their halfling partner. Put these partners on a quest for glory and virtue and their interactions will be memorable and exciting.
An epub version is also available in this packet, which gets a big reviewer bump up from me.
If there was anything I could list about Wicked Fantasy that could improve it, I would say it would be a section for each of the races focusing on the core, expected elements of a D&D game. Why do people from these cultures become adventurers? Why would they team up with other adventurers? What would drive them to battle monsters and obtain magic and loot? D&D4 did this, to great effect, and I think it should be something everyone is thinking of when supplementing a D&D experience. Given what D&D games are about, what specifically do you bring to that core game experience?
In any event, all together these supplements are much, much greater than the sum of their parts. You absolutely should check out this exciting world through the eyes of its well-detailed inhabitants.