Note: Pathfinder Campaign Setting: The Inner Sea World Guide has replaced this volume as the main Pathfinder campaign setting book. The newer volume has been expanded and updated, and is designed for use with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. And the PDF is cheaper, too!
Golarion, the exciting world of the Pathfinder Adventure Paths and Pathfinder Modules, comes alive in this massive 256-page full-color hardcover tome primed up and ready to go for your new campaign! Detailed sections on more than 40 nations—from the frontiers of Varisia to the devil-tainted cities of Cheliax to the frigid Hold of the Mammoth Lords—provide a full picture of the world of the Pathfinder Chronicles campaign setting, with new rules, new magic and spells, detailed descriptions of more than twenty gods and their religions, and a gorgeous poster map detailing the entire campaign setting. The Pathfinder Chronicles campaign setting provides classic adventuring style and cutting-edge game design perfectly suitable for the world’s most popular roleplaying game!
Written by (in alphabetical order):
Clinton J. Boomer
Joshua J. Frost
Stephen S. Greer
Jason Eric Nelson
Sean K Reynolds
Leandra Christine Schneider
F. Wesley Schneider
Amber E. Scott
Owen K.C. Stephens
James L. Sutter
Greg A. Vaughan
Also included are essays on world-building written by Robert J. Kuntz and R.A. Salvatore.
Só vale a pena se você quer continuar no 3.5E e por acaso se interessou pelo mundo. Qualquer outra situação, o Inner Sea Guide tem quase todo o conteúdo que esse tem (falta o guia de pronunciação apenas) e é mais aprofundado, maior e com ilustrações e cartografia melhores. De qualquer forma, o diferencial de Golarion é só a maturidade com que algumas questões como escravidão, guerra, sexualidade, e os males da humanidade são tratados, no resto é um mundo bem genérico (embora muito bem escrito).
A lot of this review is going to be negative, so let me start out by saying, I love this world, and this is an excellent source book. I'm nit-picking because I feel there's so much to improve, but where they started is amazing.
Also worth note before I get started: there is a new version coming out sometime in early 2011, so if you can get this book at cover price, it's probably still worth it, but some of the crazy prices I've seen at 2-5 times the cover price are definitely not worth paying. The new version will be an update to the latest Pathfinder rules (this edition is just OGL-compatible), which means you can expect the sections about character classes to change, but that's probably about it. There's not much "crunch" in this book, as one might expect, and so a rules update is kind of tangential to its content. There is also a book about the Inner Sea region coming out (Pathfinder Campaign Setting World Guide: The Inner Sea (Revised Edition)), so if you are specifically interested in that region, you might want to go that route either alone or in addition.
Now to the review. The cover art is blurry. An odd defect, given Paizo's usual standards, but I'll assume this is an artifact of their early rush to print when they were just getting started in the post-Dragon/Dungeon magazines era.
Inside, the book is beautiful. The art is spot-on and really gives a sense of the world. The poster map that comes with the book is excellent, if somewhat more sparse on detail than I would have expected. The races are wonderful. I especially love what they've done with gnomes: a race I previously couldn't care less about is now one of my favorites!
However, as you start to read, you definitely get the sense that someone forgot to write the introduction chapter. You end up having to essentially read the entire book cover-to-cover in order to make sense of the world. An intro that told us, "This is Golarion. Most of the action will take place in or within 1000 miles of the Inner Sea, a temperate sea that acts as the divide between the two major continents...." and so on. Not an in-depth view of the countries and peoples. There's plenty of that later on, but just a quick intro so that I don't feel lost the first time a major country or god's name is dropped as if I'm supposed to know what it means. I actually bought this book because the Adventure Paths were giving me the same lost feeling, and it solved that problem, but only after I slogged through most of the book (starting with the History chapter helped a bit).
In the writeups of the races, I have roughly the same problem. You almost have to start reading them from the middle, because that's usually where they get around to explaining who and what they are, rather than how they found themselves in some historical calamity, but again these write-ups are brilliant. Gnomes are much improved over their D&D roots, but every race has some excellent flavor to it. Elves will definitely be interesting. They're not really very nice, and I like that about them. In fact, between the Elves and the Drow, it's actually hard to choose a group to support, but the Drow have a point in feeling abandoned and wronged by the other elves.
Humans are my favorite race, however. I love the fact that they're not just the everyman white, European analog with a few ethnic minorities thrown in for flavor that most fantasy games have. They're a diverse mix of humanity both fantastic and realistic, and the Inner Sea is ideally located to be a mixing pot of Arabesque and pseudo-Eruopean influences of many flavors.
Overall, this is an excellent resource. If you're looking for a fully realized world on which to base a campaign, this is definitely it. If you're looking for a quick reference, then I suggest picking up the smaller Chronicles books such as Gods & Magic and Guide to Absalom that suit your needs.
A definite must-have for those playing Pathfinder Golarion setting; very useful for DM's, player's that want their PC's to have a more fuller background, and definitely for those that are members of the Pathfinder Society. My only wish is that it was just a little bit more meaty-er (by my tastes).