Against my better judgment, I've been excitedly looking forward to the Lost Omens World Guide.
I should have known better.
Before delving into the issues here, let's focus on a few of the positives:
- The art is gorgeous and very high-quality (for the most part)
- The layout and appearance of the book is excellent, with helpful tabs and indexing
- The section on Absalom is especially well-written - flavorful, evocative, and inspiring
- For those who have been following the changes that have taken place to Golarion since the Inner Sea World Guide was released, it's nice to have everything condensed in one place
Ready? On to the myriad issues:
- There is a startlingly low amount of new information in this book for existing players of PF who are porting over to 2E. As a comparison, the section on Varisia in the ISWG from 1E was 4 pages. In LOWG? Try 1.5. If you've been following Pathfinder, you may not read a single thing in this book that you didn't already know. So you're basically paying for rehashed, consolidated material and some new art (Psst...which you can get online for free).
- The Paizo team decided to break the world down into "zones", where ostensibly things are similar and you can explore certain adventure themes. So Varisia is now part of a zone called "The Saga Lands" for some reason. The book focuses on each of these zones while paying short thrift to countries or city-states within them. The one exception is Absalom. Other "zones" include: Broken Lands, Eye of Dread, Golden Road, High Seas, Impossible Lands, Mwangi Expanse, Old Cheliax, and Shining Kingdoms.
- The book bills itself as a "World Guide" and is 135 pages long. Compare this to Pathfinder first edition's "Inner Sea World Guide", which focused on the Inner Sea, a portion of Golarion's "world" at 318 pages and you'll begin to see the lack of detail in this book. Bear in mind, D&D 5E's Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide is 159 pages. That's 24 more pages for a small area of the Forgotten Realms. Yikes. So, one wonders why Paizo chose such a small page count. Would Paizo fans have not purchased a 300 - 400 page World Guide? Of course they would have. They just purchased a 620 pound doorstop of a Core Rulebook. A cynic might say that Paizo was looking out for their bottom line and wanted to hold a lot in reserve to sell again to their fanbase.
- Why is Tanya Depass involved with this book? You would be forgiven for not knowing who that is. As far as I can tell, her only qualification is that she's a self-proclaimed "diversity consultant" to the gaming industry. What exactly does that mean, you ask? Tanya is a Queer Woman of Color (TM), checking three virtue-signalling diversity boxes for Paizo, and she wants to see more people like herself in gaming. You might be asking whether this is self-serving or perhaps racist and sexist, as Tanya herself would likely conclude if a straight white male was fighting to see more like himself in gaming. Well, no, of course it isn't! Why? Shhh...don't think too hard... (-1 star)
- No map for Absalom? Very unfortunate considering the neighborhood by neighborhood breakdown for the city. It would be nice for readers to know where in the City a 'hood is located. Visuals people, visuals.
- Apparently, all countries are exemplars of racial and gender equity. Yes, even city-states that just banned slavery. Yes, even devil-bound nations: "We may be evil, but we aren't /monsters/!" (-1 star)
- All of this detracts from the verisimilitude of the world, making Golarion feel less like a real, living, breathing place and more like a fantasy simulacrum of utopia for the current American ultra-left, where everyone who is not pure evil gets along, with no animus or bias towards anyone as a result of their race or sexuality. Unfortunately, real people have biases, and differences of opinion, and interpretations of goodness, and yes, some are even racist or sexist. But not in Golarion! Oh no. If you cross that line in Golarion, you're a moustache-twirling villain who also happens to eat babies and gut puppies and cast away rainbows from the sky and steal iced-cream from children.
- It's one thing to hold extreme political views, on either side. It's quite another to infest a fantasy role-playing game with said leanings. For me, fantasy should be just that, a chance to exit the everyday, and explore a world different from our own, not one that seems like its run by Jezebel, the #METOO movement, or MSNBC.
- Now, all of this would be well and good if there were some in-world rationale for all of this perfect gender and racial parity and equity (though curiously, Paizo is still fine with wealth and class disparity). But there's not. As a matter of fact, in Pathfinder's early days, the world contained much more racial animus and tension, more traditional gender differences, and all manner of bias. Yet, all of that has mysteriously vanished over the last few years as the real world political winds have shifted. This leaves Golarion feeling less like a fully realized fantasy world and more like a shadowy reflection of real world American left-wing politics, fickle and changing as real world politics change. Suddenly, in the last few years, Golarion's races, some of whom have millenia of racial hatred between them, are all either besties or on the verge of reconciliation, and from all indications, Golarion is well on its way to having every major city and nation ruled by a woman. Not because anything shifted in-world - there weren't Golarion-wide "Me Too" or "Goblin Lives Matter" movements for example -, but because the foul winds of real world political-correctness have blown. Pathfinder developers live in fear that if they portray races of Golarion evincing racial hatred or animus that someone in the real world will take that as a cue that Paizo thinks its ok for real-world racial hatred to exist. That's the warped mindset here.
- This strange mindset is also reflected in the fact that Paizo plans on having slavery completely expunged from the Inner Sea. Why? This is due to the creative director's fear that not doing so would potentially cause someone in the real world to believe that Paizo approves of slavery. So, as a public service, Paizo really, REALLY wants you to know that slavery is bad and they don't approve of it, OK???
- Hardcover: 136 pages
- Publisher: Paizo Inc.; 2 edition (10 September 2019)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1640781722
- ISBN-13: 978-1640781726
- Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 1.5 x 27.7 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 658 g
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 9,665 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)