With the arrival of Pathfinder Second Edition, the setting side of things got a new label – “Lost Omens” instead of “Inner Sea” (or just “Pathfinder Campaign Setting,” if the book was softcover). Although the title is new, the setting is the same, with time proceeding at its usual rate – Golarion has been in the Age of Lost Omens for the last 100 years; this label just didn’t get a spot in the title. The first Lost Omens book was, sensibly enough, the Lost Omens World Guide.
The focus of the setting has pulled back a bit, although it is not as noticeable here in the World Guide as it will become over the course of the other currently-released Lost Omens books (the nations of Tan Xia don’t get the same attention here that the people will in the Lost Omens Character Guide). But the additional attention paid to places like the Mwangi Expanse does not mean that the Inner Sea has ceased to be at the center of things (literally and metaphorically). The continent of Avistan lies to the north of this pseudo-Mediterranean, with the continent of Garund to the south and Casmaron to the east.
The Lost Omens World Guide is divided into ten 12-page sections:
- Absalom and Starstone Isle – the heart of it all, center of the world, home of the Pathfinder Society, and starting point for the currently ongoing Extinction Curse adventure path.
- Broken Lands – With the sealing of the Worldwound, the Broken Lands may not be quite as broken anymore, but it’s still kind of a mess. Also home to Golarion’s resident fake deity and artificial intelligence deity.
- Eye of Dread – This area is mostly defined by the malignant and undead Whispering Tyrant, monstrous humanoids of various loyalties, and those who fight against them.
- Golden Road – the northern reaches of Garund and a slice of Casmaron, the golden road includes Egyption-inspired Osirion, the genie-conquering lands of Qadira, and the militantly secular nation of Rahadoum;
- High Seas – Home to pirates, a massive and magically stationary hurricane, pirates, a large-scale eugenics experiment conducted by a gold dragon, and oh did I mention pirates?
- Impossible Lands – The southeastern reaches of Garund are defined by the fallout of the longstanding magical war between Nex and Geb, which has warped both these nations and the land between them. Also there are firearms.
- Mwangi Expanse – This region of Golarion is defined by ancient cities nestled in vast expanses of jungle, with governments ranging from benign collectives to reincarnated tyrants.
- Old Cheliax – The empire of Cheliax has shattered into the a core that allied with Hell to survive, a former vassal that allied with the god of pain to survive, and a variety of independent stages that mostly.
- Saga Lands – Home to Varisia and the frozen north, the Saga Lands have been the location for several adventure paths, including the earliest ones;
- Shining Kingdoms – Containing the declining Taldoran Empire and even more remnants of Old Cheliax, the nations of the shining kingdoms are a bit more rambunctious, including a functioning republic and the maybe not-as-functioning ‘republic’ of Galt (think France during the Reign of Terror).
One feature I liked – and I know this may be getting repetitive across my Pathfinder 2E reviews – is lots of imagery. There are great maps, but also nice portraits of prominent folks from these regions. A picture of an NPC can be worth so many more than a thousand words of description of their appearance.
Note that, although there is no “time skip” and Lost Omens is a smooth continuation of Inner Sea, time has passed, and so the events of the ongoing story (including the story told through adventure paths and Pathfinder Society play) can be seen. Arazani is free, the Worldwound is closed, and Aethusa is redeemed and ensconced in New Thassilon.
Of course, just because this is a setting book doesn’t mean there aren’t mechanics. Each of the ten areas gets mew backgrounds and a new archetype, and there’s the occasional random feat (e.g., Godless Healing) or item (e.g., Archaic Wayfinder) thrown around for good measure. Some of these archetypes get successor archetypes in the Lost Omens Character Guide, such as the Pathfinder Agent and Hellknight Armiger. Players who really, really don’t want their characters to die can check out the Living Monolith archetype, which starts off by piling on defense against the dying condition and bonuses to death saves. The classic Red Mantis Assassins make an appearance as well. You can be the next Seoni with the Runescarred archetype (don’t be ashamed, it’s fine to be inspired by the classics).
Whether it’s dubbed the Age of Lost Omens or the Inner Sea or just the Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Golarion is a great fantasy world that’s been developed over some amazing campaigns for the last decade. And the Lost Omens World Guide is the place to start exploring it.