With the move away from the shorter paperback releases that formed the bulk of the campaign setting line in Pathfinder’s first edition, the new series of Pathfinder Second Edition campaign setting books are less constrained to a single format, leaving more room for unique and experimental books. The first attempt at this in the Pathfinder Lost Omens line is Lost Omens: Legends. This is a book that could only exist after the setting had been around for some time, and was definitely at the top of my interests when I received it.
Pathfinder Lost Omens: Legends
July 9, 2020
The experimental style of Lost Omens: Legends makes it both one of the more interesting books in the line, and one that is a little more difficult to review in the same way that the Bestiaries were a bit trickier. Like them, this book is not divided into neat and tidy chapters; instead, it’s just an alphabetical listing of entries. Lost Omens: Legends is what amounts to an NPC gallery at a much larger scale. In all, there are 42 entries of notable NPCs, some entries focusing on more than a single character to bring the total characters discussed to 50.
The reason this book could only exist in this form today is that a vast majority of these characters are heavily involved in the last ten years of Adventure Path campaigns. The Runelords Belimarius and Sorshen were mentioned in the very first Adventure Path, Rise of the Runelords, before getting a bigger focus in both Shattered Star and Return of the Runelords. Tar-Baphon and Ulthun II were key figures in the final Adventure Path of the previous edition, Tyrant’s Grasp. These are the setting’s major characters, who have helped shape the last ten years of history alongside whichever player characters happened to be at the table. They are the enemies your players fought and the allies they helped.
Two things make this book stand out from the Bestiaries. The first is that the characters in this book do not have stat blocks. This book is not meant to stat those personalities for you to fight against or alongside—it’s to provide information on them and what they’ve been up to since a player has last seen them. The second is that each entry has its own particular flavor. Some entries, like Artokus Kirran, the creator of the life-extending Sun Orchid Elixir, are presented in the form of short stories. Some, like the knights of the family Iomedar, are presented as reports detailing their exploits taken down by one of the officers under their commands. Some are just presented as basic historical write-ups, but all of them offer a unique flavor to make this book an enticing read.
Despite the lack of stat blocks, there is no shortage of mechanical content in Lost Omens: Legends. Many of the entries have some form of player-ready content, whether it’s a batch of equipment to help you service the Bellflower Network (a halfling-run underground railroad working to abolish slavery in Golarion) or a new witch patron in the form of the old grandmother herself, Baba Yaga. There are even sample Infernal Contracts you can take to sell your soul to a devil (and an in-world example of what one looks like written on parchment, which is rad as heck).
Rather than dig in deep to any one particular character in this book, I thought it would be fun to give some brief snippets of my favorites, hoping something may pique your interest.
- The thrice-damned Queen of Cheliax, Abrogail Thrune II, who was the antagonistic force behind Hell’s Rebels and the underhanded benefactor at the heart of Hell’s Vengeance. Over the last ten years, she’s seen her empire collapse around her, losing colonies all over the Inner Sea Region, and the book hints that she is itching to try to reclaim some of her territory.
- The aforementioned Baba Yaga, the mother of the forever frozen land of Irrisen who players aided in Reign of Winter. Her granddaughter, Anastasia Romanov (yes, that Anastasia, it’s a whole thing), now sits on the throne of the Irrisen.
- Irabeth Tirabade and her wife Anevia, who helped daring crusaders drive the demon horde from the Worldwound in Wrath of the Righteous. This is my absolute favorite campaign, and seeing these familiar faces made me so very happy as these two characters were my player character’s best friends. Anevia was the first bit of representation I saw for myself in the world of TTRPGs that wasn’t a cursed item that changes your gender. Pathfinder has moved away from this portrayal, making things to change one’s gender regular magic items and potions, rather than slapping the label of a curse on the very idea.
- Kalabrynne and Clarethe Iomedar, a mother and her child who are fighting the hordes of Tar-Baphon by their own methods as the de facto leaders of the Knights of Lastwall. (Side note, after Irabeth and Anevia, this is my favorite entry because again, I’m a mark for paladin archetypes. Throw in that Kalabrynne is trans and Clarethe is nonbinary and you’re just playing to me personally.)
- The Licktoad tribe of goblins, stars of the We Be Goblins! adventure series, who most recently got trapped in the Astral Plane. This series of adventures has been Paizo’s ongoing contribution to Free RPG Day, so feel free to have some fun with them.
- The Whispering Tyrant and scourge of all Golarion himself, Tar-Baphon, who’s actions to free himself during Tyrant’s Grasp nearly ended the world. Tar-Baphon is the current big boss of the setting, and while I don’t expect another Adventure Path to star him anytime soon, when one finally does it’s going to be a big deal.
- The long-lived queen of the elves, Telandia Edasseril, who seems to finally be taking a husband. I personally loved the little bit of flavor that she and her betrothed spend time together using magic to become birds and flying around on the thermals. It really spoke to the Animorphs fan in me.
In addition to each entry, at the very end of the book are two pages that show how various NPCs interact in various subplots seeded in the book. These can be used to build your own campaigns around these themes (for example, how all of Queen Abrogail’s enemies can work to continue the fight to free Cheliax’s colonies).
In all, Lost Omens: Legends is probably my favorite book of the line so far. The rich lore of each of the entries is fun to read, and the character options are fun little things to tie your players to legendary figures in the world. While I typically use the Adventure Paths for my campaigns, because it requires less prep work for me, I can’t say that the section on the Iomedar’s isn’t making me want to write my own campaign to reclaim the Gravelands or to expand on the “War in the North” plotline as a sequel to Wrath of the Righteous. I also fully expect we will see a few of those subplots come to fruition in upcoming Adventure Paths (looking directly at next year’s Outlaws in Alkenstar which could very easily involve the dwarf and orc plotline described in “An Ancient Wrong”). No matter how you plan to use it, this book is a fantastic addition to GM libraries to help add flavor to your campaigns.
Cori McCreery is a two-time Eisner-winning critic who primarily writes for Women Write About Comics. She is writing the literal book on Superman.