Book Review: Assassin’s Amulet by Michael K. Tumey, Mike Bourke, and Johnn Four from Roleplaying Tips, Part 1

Before I get into the first part of of this review (tune in for part 2 tomorrow!), I have to get a few things out of the way… First a bit of a disclosure, I’ve known Johnn Four since joining the Gamer Lifestyle program a few years ago, so it was an immediate “yes” when he asked me to review this book. And I’ve been a long-time reader of Roleplaying Tips, Campaign Mastery, and the great stuff coming out of Rite Publishing. So the fact that the trio of Johnn, Mike Bourke, and Michael K. Tumey has put out not just a good book, but a great book doesn’t surprise me.

Next, I have to say that Assassin’s Amulet is an amazing book. Pushing 300 pages of content, this thing is massive. And it’s not content being a single kind of resource – it contains maps and handouts, locations with amazing detail, adventure hooks, rules for determining the cost of an assassination, using poisons, NPCs up the wazoo, items, a deity… Every time I thought I hit the “end,” the book seemed to grow like its own sort of magic item – the “never-ending book of pages”!

And lastly, I have to ask… Do you prefer your book to be a kitchen sink or would you prefer something in smaller, bite-sized chunks? I know the trio of writers had their reasons for lumping it all together, but in an age of short (4-100 pages) PDFs, it’s unusual to see a book this large these days.

Ok, so all that is now out of the way. Let’s get into this tome which could just as easily be called “Everything You Wanted To Know About Assassins But Were Afraid to Ask” or “The Complete Guide to Assassins in D&D 3.5e/Pathfinder RPG“… Assassin’s Amulet is broken into six chapters, but honestly each one might as well be a book of its own. It starts with a couple of chapters about maps and keys, moves to GM advice, then character classes and NPCs, new magic items, and then ends with a chapter about the big picture.

Any time stats were needed for a class, character, item, monster, or whatnot, they are provided in the book for both D&D 3.x and the Pathfinder RPG. Though I’m largely playing 4e these days, most of the last few years has been spent playing a combination of 3.5e and Pathfinder, so I like seeing the older systems still supported by the community (and publishers) at large.

Layout-wise, the book is two columns throughout, with a ton of art scattered from top to bottom. There is quite a bit of white space between paragraphs, lists, and sections, which could probably have been a bit tighter, but I’d rather see white space than have something resembling newsprint. The artwork varies from black and white line drawings to full color images of varying sizes. The consistent use of skull imagery throughout does a nice job of tying the whole book together.

A couple of mistakes caught my eye, but they’re very minor and I know all too well the impossible nature of wrangling a book of this size and catching every single niggly thing. The biggest one involves the map of the “Assassin’s Lair” on page 13 with the name Cyrene (the goddess involved with the assassins) misspelled as “Cerene.” It’s spelled correctly in the larger version of the map in the appendix. Other than that, it’s really nit-picking and I have to give these guys a solid A for catching as much as they did. You remember I said this book is 300 pages, right?

So now that I have all the high-level stuff covered, tomorrow I’ll actually talk about the content – and that’s probably what you’re more interested in anyway!

In the meantime, pick up your own copy at!

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7 comments to Book Review: Assassin’s Amulet by Michael K. Tumey, Mike Bourke, and Johnn Four from Roleplaying Tips, Part 1

  • Great Review so far, Fitz. Thank you! There is actually a story behind the spelling of Cyrene as “Cerene”, as I explained in my Behind-the-scenes article at Campaign Mastery, The Creation Of A Deity: The Origins Of Cyrene. Nevertheless, you’re right – I missed fixing that one when I fixed the other referances. I hope the content (to be reviewed in part II) lives up to your expectations!

  • Fitz

    @Mike Bourke – Very cool on the origins article, and thanks for the link. No worries – the content is amazing. It’s just that there’s a LOT of it. 🙂

  • @Fitz – We wanted to make it value-for-money, and were mindful that some content might not be of value to some customers. And we were inspired by the ideas! We thought about splitting it up into smaller ebooks but a lot of it was too interconnected to split easily.

    You should also be aware that we have a long list of bonus products – revised, expanded, reformatted, and annotated content, designed to be more user-friendly – that are still to come. AA is formatted to package the ideas together as tightly as possible (to try and keep the page count down, believe it or not) and to act as a central referance – to be as useful as they can be, some tweaking is needed. Most products expect the DM to do this prep work – we’re doing (at least some of) it for them. These will become available on a semi-regular basis through the link contained within AA itself.

    I’ve been busy for the last couple of weeks preparing a Free Preview version that should hit DrivethruRPG later this week. So anyone who’s inspired by what Fitz has to say but wants to see for themselves should check it out! I’ll reply with a link when I have one.

  • Fitz

    @Mike Bourke – There are definitely a lot of ideas in AA – no arguments on that point! And I can definitely see how it might be difficult to split some of them into independent products. I’m glad to hear that AA is just the beginning and there are bonuses coming with additional details, so best of luck on that front! And all the best to you guys with everything!

  • I got a chance to take a peek at this book before it was released. Glad to see it getting good reviews, they deserve it!

  • Glad to see that you like what I create (outside of Rite Publishing), though this had a far longer creation cycle than some of the other publications I’ve worked on. It’s exciting to see it finally released and getting the attention it deserves. Thanks for the review!


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