Great characters no matter their ancestry, background or class get better when they are placed into the context of their world. The Pathfinder 2nd Edition Lost Omens World Guide will help players and gamemasters contextualize their creations into the world of Golarion.
What the Lost Omens World Guide brings to the discussion of characters are options for character growth, customization, and exploration all with in the lore of an expansive existing world developed by Paizo. This setting source book establishes the new baseline for events in Golarion that each second edition adventure path and module will spring from. As the lore is updated for second edition we will dig into these aspects of the book:
- World Foundation
- Regional Themes
- Player Interests
- Gamemaster Interests
- Adventure Hooks
Once we have a good idea of what is contained in the Lost Omens World Guide we will examine the product itself and see if it truly belongs on your pathfinder second edition shelf.
What’s Inside the Cover?
The Lost Omens World Guide is the first instalment to the Lost Omens campaign setting books in the second edition line. As the name suggests this book operates as a broad gazetteer for the continents of Avistan and Garund which are separated by a body of water called the Inner Sea. Lost Omens is the name given to the current age of Golarion where the God of Prophesy has died leaving the fate of the world in the hands of mortals and thus, the players. This framing devise is used to separate the second edition from the first while the content breaks the continents into regions and explores those regions in greater detail.
What Makes a world?
Golarion as a fantasy world has been expanded on and developed for over a decade. Much of the lore and developments occurred during the Pathfinder first edition rules set and the non-game mechanic information carries forward into second edition. A small time skip has been implemented to allow time for first edition campaigns to finish up and the information of this book to be relevant.
Timelines, names and boarders have all been updated as well as shift in cosmology of the setting from first edition. The first pages of the Lost Omens World Guide briefly discuss the foundations of the fantasy world so that readers new to the game can have the broad context of what Golarion is and how the regions explored later in the book relate.
What Are the Regions Like?
Ten regions are explored in the World Guide and each one carries a particular tone for gamemasters to use for their tables.
|Absalom||Magic Metropolis||Cosmopolitan, high fantasy, city focused|
|Eye of Dread||Monstrous and Gothic Fantasy||The “Civil” ancestries have lost ground giving rise to undead, orcs and goblinoids driving the themes of the region. The home for gothic horror games.|
|Golden Road||Desert Fantasy||Dunes, tombs and mummies await as well as intrigue and deadly beauty|
|High Seas||Pirates!||Boats, coasts and islands await! Don’t forget what may lie beneath the surface of those waves.|
|Impossible Lands||High Ancient Magic||Lands of ancient knowledge, tragedy, and glory. High powered high magic fantasy|
|Mwangi Expanse||Jungle Fantasy||Hazardous environment of hidden secrets and knowledge. Because their ways are different does not make them any less potent!|
|Old Cheliax||Empire Fantasy||The old empire faced with fresh defeats and new challenges must keep itself together or fall before the darkness they made a pact with.|
|Saga Lands||North Lands Fantasy||Near the top of the world the land is wild, the dangers wilier, and the solutions less obvious.|
|Broken Lands||Dark Pulp fantasy||Game of Thones meets Conan with demons and sci-fi tech|
|Shining Kingdoms||Classic Fantasy||Dragons, ruins and humans oh my! Golarion’s take on Tolkien themes|
What’s in Here for Players?
Interspersed throughout the world guide are region specific items, backgrounds, dedications, and archetype feats. The backgrounds help players define where their characters come from with specific lore references as well as access to new skill and stat boost combinations.
The new dedications give players leveling options they can explore when in those regions or are from those regions. Those uncommon dedications open a host of unique archetype feats players can use to swap out their base class feats when they level up.
Besides game mechanic information players will find the region descriptions and artwork useful when deciding on the feel and characterizations they choose when playing. Lore skills can feel hollow when not placed properly into the context of the world they explore. These regional options give players some options when playing games set in specific regions.
What’s in Here for Gamemasters?
The biggest draw for gamemasters is that the heavy world building has already been performed for Golarion. Adventure hooks can be picked up ala cart for any given table and the proper names items and treasure slotted in. The Lost Omens World Guide is a great jumping in point for those gamemasters who find themselves with enough time to plan adventures but not enough time to spawn their own worlds.
Gamemasters can also take inspiration and lessons from how this text approaches world building as they make their own content for their players. One thing to remember in a gazetteer like the World Guide is that the developers are often creating full campaign settings and then applying them to the world of Golarion when they make sense. The guide then covers high level information and puts the location in context of the world. If you find yourself writing a unique setting based in Golarion remember that the world at your table is yours and you can alter what ever you like from the setting. The caution is to try and keep with relevant themes when pulling heavily from the published material.
But Can it Adventure?
One way to look at the Lost Omens World Guide is as a collection of highly contextualize but broad adventure hooks for wondering players. These are not adventures nor specific session hooks but every paragraph hints at some mystery or conflict that players can jump into.
This book serves more as an information resource than either a how to guide like the core rule book and gamemastery guides or adventure path like Age of Ashes or Extinction Curse. A creative and ambitious gamemaster could spin hundreds of tales from the starting points in these pages but these are just starting points. Do not look to this guide to provide specific adventure information. This guide will help you fill in gaps in adventures like, what religions are prominent in various regions and what are their economies like.
Aesthetics & Shelf Appeal:
The Lost Omen World Guide is a fantastic collection of lore and art depicting the regions of the Inner Sea. Each section makes liberal use of side bars and nested images to make each page engaging to the eye. Formats are consistent with the rule books and bestiary books for game information. Something many Pathfinder Gamemasters have been wanting are regional and global maps which this book features prominently.
Blue and beige mark the binding of this source book which will have it stand out against your bestiary books and rule books. There is not a special edition red and gold cover release for the source book line but they still look great on a shelf together.
Ease of Use:
Something to remember when navigating the World Guide is that it is not an encyclopedia. This means when you are looking for a specific reference you will want to use organization tools like sticky notes and tabs when using this book heavily.
The table of contents pages are gorgeous, but the glossary-index is primarily dedicated to proper names and keywords. By combining the index and glossary into a single section Paizo saved pages in printing but put more work on the readers and researchers.
After the first several readings of the World Guide the gazetteer nature becomes less useful and a more encyclopedic method might feel needed. Most players and gamemasters wont notice this shift unless they begin trying to publicly publish third party content or planning highly in depth Golarion faithful adventures.
Nestled in these pages are several hidden gems that until someone becomes more familiar with Pathfinder lore do not stand out. Flags, symbols and organizations take on and covey meaning for each region. While descriptive sections remain high level, great homage is paid to the previously published adventure paths and Pathfinder Society Scenarios. This gives the campaign world a living feel that is hard for entirely new settings to duplicate.
Since this lore material is also an update and not a replacement, readers can go into the back catalogue of campaign materials for specifics alluded to in the world guide. While new material relating to the regions is likely to release little of the new material will fully override something already published.
What I Include at My Table:
Maps! The inclusion of a two-sided regional map poster is enough to buy this book if you enjoy the campaign setting at all. The in-text map images also help give a geographical context to the regions that is not always obvious.
At my table players have access to any abilities that are published by Paizo which they meet the requirements for. Every source book that includes cool things for my players to explore hits our table. We find more use out of the backgrounds information than either the items or the feats though. Uncommon items often require some narrative integration for their flavor to really shine as do the dedications and archetypes.
The Lost Omens World Guide is a must buy for players and gamemasters who enjoy playing in the official Paizo setting. Homebrew players will have less use for the specifics of the material but can take great queues for how to prepare campaign information.
Mixing the Lost Omens specific material with homebrew games may require some balancing from the gamemaster to keep narrative cohesion and balance. Sometimes a gamemaster will be thinking of a homebrew setting and is hitting a wall on proper nouns. The world guide can help overlay broad setting information to ease the creative currency used for those details and let the game master focus on adventures and characters.
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