All too often, religion is relegated to being the province of divine spellcasting characters only, with everyone else usually not even bothering to scribble down the name of a patron deity on their character sheet. Naturally, this eschews quite a few avenues for truly role-playing the character, as one needn’t be a cleric (or ranger, druid, or what-have-you) to be religious. It’s this point that Jon Brazer Enterprises’ Pathfinder supplement, Book of the Faithful: Power of Prayer, focuses on.
A short book, Power of Prayer is only seven pages long, including the cover and credits/legal page. Despite that, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the product had extensive bookmarks to every heading, with some even being nested – nice bit of extra service there in such a brief PDF. The book also has more artwork than I would have thought; besides the full color cover, there are two interior black and white illustrations, and each page has a large (perhaps slightly too large) border on the bottom. Still, I enjoyed the manner in which the book displayed itself – it could have gotten away with no interior artwork simply due to its brevity, but held itself to a higher standard.
The book opens with examples of prayers from different people, illustrating the point of the ubiquity of faith (at least in a fantasy world). This opens section on religion and role-playing, talking about how and why a non-clerical character would have a religious bent, followed by several archetypes that such a character could follow (e.g. a convert, an evangelist, etc).
It’s only after this that the book moves on to new mechanics. It introduces the idea of prayer feats – prayer feats are, from an in-game standpoint, feats that are given by a god to a faithful follower as a reward for their devotion. Each of the seventeen feats here thusly has a requirement that you worship a god with a particular domain, and grants a bonus thematically related to that domain. What I enjoyed most about this section was how it noted that a prayer feat’s effect is activated by the PLAYER just like any other feat, but the CHARACTER isn’t the one manifesting that power – it’s being activated by the whim of the deity directly. Very cool.
The book closes with a single magic item, an enchanted holy symbol that grants a small bonus to saving throws for a brief time, and three non-magical books that discuss a given religion. The inclusion of these latter items may seem slightly odd, given that they have no particular mechanical impact of any kind, but I think they add a nice (albeit minor) bit of dressing to the campaign world, and I suspect that was the intent in adding them.
Overall, Book of the Faithful: Power of Prayer does a fair job in pushing non-clerical characters to adopt a more religious tone. Taking the dual-pronged approach of highlighting it as good role-playing, and offering new mechanics to make it more appealing in terms of crunch, it offers some nice ideas and incentives for characters to be a little more pious, no matter what their class is. Pick this book up and put a little more power in your character’s prayers next game.
[5 of 5 Stars!]