Since Pathfinder Second Edition is a complete revamp of the Pathfinder rules system, they have balanced supplement releases that focus on the rules with those that provide Second Edition expansions of their Lost Omens setting on the planet of Golarion. That setting has been explored in depth by Paizo for over a decade, in supplements for D&D 3.5 that predated the release of Pathfinder First Edition, so they have a large foundation to build upon with new setting material for Second Edition.
While some of those – like Lost Omens: Gods and Magic and the Lost Omens: World Guide – have had a lot of mechanics that can be incorporated into game play, their main focus is narrative, providing setting information that Gamemasters can use in planning out a story set in the world of Golarion. Their two most recent supplements in the Lost Omens line have focused a bit more on the narrative.
In Absalom: City of Lost Omens (Paizo, Amazon), the emphasis is on a single city. The “city at the center of the world,” Absalom is the largest, most cosmopolitan city in the entire Lost Omens setting. A variety of adventures and scenarios have been set there, including the entire Agents of Edgewatch (Paizo, Amazon) adventure path, so there’s no shortage of previous material for them to draw on in this 400-page tome about the city.
The book covers the history, factions, organizations, and points of interest within the city, including detailed guides to 14 different districts in and surrounding the city, followed by about 120 pages of NPC descriptions. There are nice summary tables, listing all of the various points of interest, broken up by type and location, so you can easily figure out what you can add into your adventure. In addition, there’s a table of random rumors (a mix of true and untrue), that you can throw out if players go looking or information.
If your game isn’t expressly set in the city of Absalom, it’s likely that many adventurer groups will eventually find their way through Absalom at some point. Or, at least, if you get this book, it’s likely you’ll find a way to get the group there. For example, you can have your players meet these NPCs while they travel far away from Absalom, giving them someone to look up if they’re ever in the city.
Even in a campaign where you aren’t ever getting into Absalom proper, the final portion of the book does provide some new mechanics. In addition to some equipment, there is information about a new ancestry, the aquatic Azarketi, or “gillmen.”
Another recent supplement, Lost Omens: Monsters of Myth (Paizo, Amazon), goes into detail on 20 specific villainous creatures that you can use as a focus of a storyline or campaign. Some of these monsters are from popular culture or fable – like kaiju, Krampus, or Spring-Heeled Jack – while many of the others are specific creatures that have been introduced in previous supplements and adventures as monsters within the Golarion setting. In addition to the background material on these creatures and any relevant mechanics or stat blocks for these creatures (or their minions), each chapter lists some ideas for how the creatures can be incorporated into campaigns at different levels. You might not be able to directly fight a kaiju yet, for example, but you can deal with help rescue citizens in a besieged city, prevent the devastation the creature’s attack brings, and perform other highly-dramatic support activities.
I still love running games, but I have little time for in-depth planning. But following a full adventure or adventure path feels a little constraining sometimes. If you’re looking for something in between those two extremes, both of these supplements are great for Gamemasters looking to incorporate these elements into their games, giving you a very rich source of background that you can quickly build story elements around.
The next setting guide coming from Paizo in the Lost Omens line is the Knights of Lastwall (Paizo, Amazon), which is more oriented toward character information, providing equipment, archetypes, and other mechanics for characters that are wanting to play the remnants of this knightly order.
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