Review – Lost Omens: Legends (Pathfinder)

Lost Omens: Legends collects story information on 30 prominent NPCs from Golarion. For the most part, the write ups are informative and a fun read. Indeed, I found myself wishing that there had been more room in Lost Omens: Gods & Magic to go into this sort of detail. Because most of these characters are the leaders of nations, organizations, or movements, the descriptions often include a lot of information on what their country/organization has been up to and plans to be up to.

These write-ups are generally deep cuts into Golarion. The characters are theoretically presented for better ease of use of these NPCs in games, but to me they felt more aimed for purely reading purposes for those invested in the Lost Omens setting. A number of these characters have been deeply involved in adventure paths (for example, a pair of Runelords), or relate to Pathfinder Society scenarios (for example, Hao Jin). Illustrating the importance of connection to prior adventures is the fact that the licktoad goblins from the various Free RPG Day adventures are also thrown in for good measure. There’s always an extra bit of joy in reading about NPCs that you’ve had the chance to fight alongside, or against.

I appreciated that Paizo was willing to vary the number of pages dedicated to each character. Some characters warrant four pages, while others only warrant two. Some related characters are grouped together. There are a few pages that present a in-character writing or map at the tail end of an entry. I particularly liked the infernal contract that followed Abrogail Thrune II’s entry. Kudos in particular to Ron Lundeen’s use of an ‘interpretation’ clause to remove the word “not” from other clauses of the contract (P.S. don’t sign an infernal contract, kiddies).

The write-ups are almost all about recent happenings on Golarion, what’s going on now, or what may happen in the near future. The write-ups I liked the least are the ones that strayed from this mold. It’s not that there isn’t anything interesting to say about characters who died hundreds of years ago, but in this context I found myself scratching my head about why I was reading them. My guess is that they provide background for coming events. For example, there are references to the Quest for the Sky and relations between dwarves and orcs in several entries, so the entry on Taargick (the Dwarven king who led the Quest for the Sky) may be included to provide further background on upcoming plot related to that. Similarly, there is an entry on the centuries-dead Choral the Conqueror (who founded Brevoy), which consists almost entirely of a story of someone finding historical material washed up on a shore, and then several references elsewhere to this salvage – again, I’m presuming we’ll see more of this plot in an adventure path or PFS scenarios.

There are several themes that run throughout the entries, including the abolitionist movement, revolutionary states, sun orchid elixir, non-magical medicine, and (of course) what to do about Tar-Baphon. There’s also a small subplot about the leadership of Absalom, and a relative lot of characters from northern Golarion (how many linnorm kings are there again?), although I’m not sure where that’s headed.

For what it’s worth, my favorite entries were Abrogail Thrune II (ruler of Cheliax; written by Ron Lundeen), Camilia Drannoch (current leading citizen of Galt), and Deena al-Gharla Antim Zhar al-Parishat (the abolitionist new spouse of the satrap of Qadira; part of a three-character entry written by Matt Morris). Of course, there’s a large dose of random personal preference in here, but I thought these entries have both interesting personal backstories and something to say about why macro-level events might move in certain ways. Also, shout-out for secondary character Kul-Inkit (found in the Kevoth-Kul entry; written by Ashton Sperry), who is a newfound devotee of Cassandalee whose goal is to upload her consciousness into a construct.

Although this is almost entirely a flavor book, there are a few player options and iems included. In theory, almost all of these require the personal blessing of one of these NPCs, although I imagine many GMs won’t worry about that if the ability is appropriate. Many are also, however, rather high level, and I don’t see a lot of high-level play outside of adventure paths (where I would anticipate a GM more closely holding to the flavor of these options). But there are a few more generally useful options. Kassi Aziril (who’s non-magical medical techniques are taking Golarion by storm) provides two feats. There’s a first-level skill feat that allows for the crafting of medicinal items using Medicine instead of Crafting. I don’t know that it matters that it’s first-level, because that character is probably taking Battle Medicine anyway. Speaking of Battle Medicine, Kassi also has a seventh-level Paragon Battle Medicine skill feat. On its own, it lets Battle Medicine also cure one of a few conditions. But if you have the Godless Healing and Mortal Healing feats, it can cure a broader array of conditions and it can cure all of them. Kassi is definitely trying to outdo the clerics. There’s an entire archetype for the Bright Lions, but that seems hard to use for a PC unless they set an adventure path near Mzali.

Ultimately, Lost Omens: Legends is a fun bit of background reading on the recent past and near future of Golarion. But it will particularly shine for those who have played a lot of Paizo’s published Pathfinder adventures (adventure paths, PFS scenarios, Free RPG Day modules, etc.).

Promotional consideration was provided in the form of a review copy.

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