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Lost Omens: Legends Review

Hello again my friends, and welcome to another PAIZO REVIEW! The bounty of new products from the Golem has yet to let up, so let’s sink our teeth into some lighter fare. This time we’re reviewing Lost Omens: Legends, Paizo’s newest folio of movers and shakers in Golarion. Let’s get to it!
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Personally, I’m thankful a product like this exists, especially for a setting that’s had as much love and thought poured into it as Golarion. Indeed, I feel the very existence of a character folio like this demonstrates its need – there’s so many moving pieces on the political and social board it’s near-impossible to know them all off hand, so having a reference document is a welcome relief.

This actually ties into a larger – if somewhat unavoidable – issue I have with approaching Golarion as a setting: there’s over 4,000 years of recorded history for it. That’s on par with most of contemporary human history! As a GM, I feel a need to be familiar with as much of a setting as possible so I can answer bizarre player questions or understand references wherever they pop up. This is silly, of course – we don’t expect historians to be knowledgeable of every facet of human history, and we shouldn’t expect GMs to be knowledgeable of every facet of Golarion’s history.

This book, then, serves more as a reference than as required reading: as you approach a certain character’s sphere of influence in the world, you can read up on them so you’re better equipped to handle what the game throws at you. And yet I can’t help but be amused at the idea of “Golarion historian” as a profession – someone at Paizo probably has that as an unofficial job title, and I for one am jealous!

More specifically to an important-character folio, I think it would have been very helpful in all the sections on rulers of nation-states to include (in some way) a visual depiction of the nation with which they’re associated and its immediate neighbors. So many words are devoted to the relations of rulers to their neighbors it would be nice to have a visual reminder of where everyone is situated. Even a Golarion historian needs a reminder now and again, and people less familiar with the setting might be utterly adrift with textual references divorced from geographical context.

In that line of thought, I really liked the “Entwined Destinies” section at the end of Legends! Several contemporary plots, schemes, and ongoing conflicts are referenced numerous times throughout this book from several different characters’ points of view. Having them all condensed into easy-to-follow charts with recognizable portraits of the involved NPCs really helps cement any nebulousness these plots may have had during the read.

From a more gameplay-focused lens, a fair number of these NPCs present new customization options for players who are following in the footsteps of a particular luminary, and new items that are strongly associated with another. For example, the spymaster Avarneus gets a handful of delightful little spy toys which will do WONDERS to help a DM ratchet up paranoia, and Baba Yaga offers new options as a witch patron. Baba Yaga, incidentally, is the best, and I will not be taking questions on that point. Goblins continue to be my favorite thing in general about Pathfinder, here reinforced by their “how to interact with humans” pamphlet. Humans like their food already dead, indeed.

A few minor quibbles which I noticed, then couldn’t stop noticing, and now must pass my curse on to you: there’s an interior artist that has a predilection for drawing perfectly fine torsos and incredibly noodly legs and feet. It’s particularly egregious with Ulthun II, but once you see it, it starts showing up everywhere. Also, for all the effort the designers clearly bent themselves over backwards with to increase the diversity and inclusion along the gender and sexuality spectrum, I didn’t notice any trans men or gay men. A dearth of visible trans men is unfortunately not uncommon in our hobby, but their absence is even more conspicuous in the shadow of two to three trans women and numerous nonbinary NPCs.

On the whole, I think Lost Omens: Legends is a wonderful and necessary supplement for anyone who loves the Golarion setting and any GM who enjoys weaving together a coherent web of intrigue for their characters to pull apart. Just don’t try to memorize it all before your next campaign in Absalom!
 
Ben Reece

Comments

Chaderick

Explorer
Thank you for this review - I wasn't sure this book was for me, at first, but I can tell that this is just what I was looking for!
 



rohdester

Explorer
I am generally impressed by the PF2 art. Although I love much of the 5e art (Tyler Jacobson's covers are amazing), PF2 puts up a fight.
 

coriolis

Explorer
I would highlight this recent post on the Paizo blog: Meet the Legendary Authors!.

They had every contributor to the book write a little blurb about their section of Lost Omens: Legends, and you find out fascinating tidbits about them (and the characters they wrote). For instance, the profile of the queen of the devil-worshipping nation of Cheliax includes a section on Infernal Contracts. This is accompanied by a full page art of an excerpt from just such a contract (to give you an idea, it starts with "Section 14.50.010.004..."); clearly, the author had fun writing infernal legalese! It turns out Ron Lundeen used to be a contract lawyer. B-)

All in all, this might be my favourite book for Pathfinder Second Edition.
 

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