Pathfinder Player Companion: Inner Sea Primer (PFRPG)

****½ (based on 7 ratings)
Pathfinder Player Companion: Inner Sea Primer (PFRPG)
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Introduction to adventure!

The Inner Sea is the heart of the Pathfinder campaign setting. From devil-worshiping Cheliax to cosmopolitan Absalom, the savage and frozen Lands of the Linnorm Kings to the steaming jungles of the Mwangi Expanse, there’s a place for any character or adventure your imagination can come up with. Yet while a Game Master or player might know all the secrets of the setting, courtesy of the Pathfinder Campaign Setting World Guide: The Inner Sea, what does a character know about his or her world? With the Inner Sea Primer, Game Masters can quickly and easily introduce their players to the Pathfinder campaign setting, and experienced players can customize their characters with new, setting-specific tricks and traits.

    Inside this Pathfinder Player Companion, you’ll find:
  • Player-friendly overviews of every nation of the Inner Sea Region, telling characters what they need to know about their homelands—or those of their enemies.
  • New character traits for every country and region, helping to flesh out characters and tie their backgrounds and mechanics into the setting.
  • New archetypes for three Inner Sea sword fighting styles: the Aldori swordlord, the Qadiran dervish, and the Taldan rondelero duelist.
  • A complete overview of the major gods in the region, and what every resident should know about them.
  • Three new arcane schools: the item crafters of the Arcanamirium, Egorian’s infernal binders, and the stealthy illusionists of Osirion’s mages of the veil.
  • Overviews of the most common races of the region, from elves to half-orcs, as well as the most common human ethnicities.

Written by Colin McComb

Each bimonthly 32-page Pathfinder Companion contains several player-focused articles exploring the volume’s theme as well as short articles with innovative new rules for social, magic, religious, and combat-focused characters, as well as traits to better anchor the player to the campaign.

ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-277-7

Note: This product is part of the Pathfinder Player Companion Subscription.

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PZO9414


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****½ (based on 7 ratings)

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Perfect for New Players During Character Creation

*****

It's hard to get into a new campaign setting once it's been around a while: the sheer amount of information can be overwhelming once one adds in all the "world lore" from dozens or hundreds of books over a period of years. The official Pathfinder campaign setting of Golarion is no different, but perhaps has the added difficulty that idle reading on various Wikis can lead to major spoilers for modules and adventure paths. For GMs, the best resource on Golarion is the Inner Sea World Guide--but that's a massive hardcover book that provides *too* much information for a casual newcomer. The obvious solution is something like the Inner Sea Primer. Clocking in at 32 full-colour pages, the purpose of this book is give a new Pathfinder player a concise overview of the various countries in the Inner Sea region of Golarion so they can give their character a background that is better tied to the setting.

The inside front cover is a map showing each country and its capital city. Obviously, fitting an entire (half-) world map on a single page means there isn't going to be a ton of detail, but it's still enough to give readers an idea of where countries are in relation to each other. The inside back cover is a reproduction of the cover (a very figurative representation of a memorable scene from Rise of the Runelords). The inside is divided into 5 sections (one long one and four very short ones).

Section 1 (22 pages) is titled "The Inner Sea." After a very brief introduction to Golarion, an historical timeline of Golarion is provided. The bulk of the section is a gazetteer of the countries of the Inner Sea, and each one receives a half-page write up. An introduction block for each country includes a drawing of its official flag, a brief one-line description (for example, Andoran is "Birthplace of Freedom" and Cheliax is "Diabolic Empire in Decline"), a general alignment, a listing of its capital, major races present there, major religions existing there, and common languages spoken there. There are then three to five paragraphs summarizing the country, and this must have been extremely challenging for the writers to figure out what to keep and what to leave--imagine summarizing the United States or Russia in a few paragraphs! I thought a pretty good job was done hitting the highlights, and a player skimming the pages to see where their character should be from would be able to get a rough sense of what each country is about. I especially appreciated that the write-ups don't reveal what, for most GMs, are "open secrets" about certain countries that players (and characters from those countries) perhaps shouldn't know. For each country, two regional traits are provided. The benefits provided are rather modest and many of them are of the fairly boring "you gain a +1 bonus on this skill and this skill is always a class skill for you" type, but there are a few that are more creative and, if nothing else, the traits do seem well-tied to the country in terms of flavour. The section concludes with a one-page overview of some other distinguishing features of the setting, such as the Darklands (Golarion's Underdark), the Worldwound, and some of the lands beyond the Inner Sea, the most prominent of which is Tian Xia.

Section 2 (2 pages) is "Combat: Sword Styles of the Inner Sea". This section introduces three new archetypes tied to the fighting styles of particular countries: there's the Aldori Swordlords of Brevoy (lightly armored duelists), the Dawnflower Dervishes of Qadira (whirling scimitar fighters), and the Rondelero Duelists of Taldor (buckler-and-falcata fighters). All three seem reasonable to me. I appreciated that the section contains a very clear explanation of what an archetype is and how it works to modify regular class features.

Section 3 (2 pages) is "Faith: Gods of the Inner Sea," featuring two to three sentence introductions to each of the "Core 20" deities of the setting. There's also very brief mentions of some other important religious figures, like Aroden, Razmir, the Empyreal Lords, etc. Again, it's hard to do much when there's so much information to present in so little space, but from a "okay, you're playing a cleric, which god are you going to worship?" perspective, it's enough to at least narrow down the choices.

Section 4 (2 pages) is "Magic: Arcane Schools of the Inner Sea." The section is interesting because it doesn't contain archetypes per se for wizards, but presents options that functionally do the same thing: modifying class features. Three magical schools are discussed (the Arcanamirium of Absalom, Egorian Academy in Cheliax, and the Mages of the Veil of Qadira) and a wizard PC who wants to be a graduate of one of the schools swaps out the powers of their arcane school (universal, conjuration, and illusion, respectively) for new powers. For example, the conjurors of Egorian Academy lose their normal acid dart and dimensional step powers and instead get a power to try to take control over other's summoned creatures and the ability to get an imp as a familiar. I really like the concept, as it nicely ties in flavour, background, and mechanics. It should be noted that there's no mention of the much more involved "Magical Academies" rules subset from Inner Sea Magic, however.

Section 5 (2 pages) is "Social: Races of the Inner Sea." Here we have one-paragraph summaries of how the various core races and human ethnicities are viewed in the Inner Sea. It's serviceable, but not exactly compelling.

The Inner Sea Primer is the sort of book easily overlooked by those who have been playing in Golarion for a long time, but it's the perfect thing to have on hand during character creation with new players. When you have to help one player pick out spells for their wizard, hand the guy running a fighter this book and tell him to decide where he's from. As a nice, concise overview of the setting, it's definitely worth the price.


Great introduction into the campaign setting

*****

This little book (36 pages, 30 of them actual content) is basically the Inner Sea World Guide in a very compressed, player friendly way. History is condensed to a single page, while all the 40 different countries get 20 pages altogether. Faiths, magic and races (including some human cultures) are dealt with in 2 pages each. I feel it's pretty the perfect amount of information to let a new player build the background for their character. On top of that this book contains 3 exclusive archetypes for both fighter and wizard. They read nice, at least - I'm tempted to try one or two.

Personally, I like the artwork. The cover is amazing, the map is useful, the 40 (!) flags are creative and the 4 character images are solid to good. I find Kyra's posture a bit weird and repeating the cover at the end seems off, but overall it's great art - as usual.

Back to the content though: If you enjoy reading long texts and are content with PDFs, Inner Sea World Guide is the better choice. For another 2$ you get roughly 10 times the content. But I feel most groups can profit from having at least one physical copy of the thinner book, especially when introducing new players.


Excellent quick intro to Golarion

*****

It has been awhile since I actually bought this, but another thread brought this product to mind again.

The Primer is an excellent starting point for any player who wants to join in the adventure in Golarion. It gives a nice 1/2 page snippet of each of the countries of the Inner Sea, along with some discussion of the religions and magic schools found around the area.

There are 3 fighter and 3 wizard archetypes that fit well into the backstory of the realm, and are well put together as well. The Aldori Swordlord is still one of my favorite fighter archetypes (mixes well with the newer Aldori Swordlord prestige class from Paths of Prestige).

Shortly after this book came out, I ended up buying extra copies so that I could give them as Christmas gifts to my gaming group who was going through Rise of the Runelords at the time.


You get what you pay for

****( )

It's hard not to echo what previous reviewers have stated, but maybe it's important for the publishers to get the general feeling of the praises and gripes about their products.

The book does a great job of introducing people to the Inner Sea. I have had some difficulty adventuring in the area and reading the fiction and not having a map in front of me to help me figure out, "Where the heck are we, anyway?" :) Further reading in the book also helps understand both of the aforementioned as the nations are detailed well-enough.

The lack of artwork was, like a previous poster said, kinda' glaring. For a $10.99 product I know we can't expect Rembrandt, but to use the inside back cover to repeat the front cover artwork is a little weak. How about a picture of the Starstone Cathedral or something equally as epic?

Still, I recommend the book to anyone who adventures in The Inner Sea. Very helpful.


A bit disapointing.

****( )

The one major issue I see with this is the fact that there is almost no artwork here. There are only three pieces of art in this book. One is the cover, which looks great, the next is inside the front cover, it is a nice map of all the nations. The third piece is inside the back cover, it is the same exact art work that is on the cover. That was very disappointing to see. There are four other small pieces of art, maybe a quarter of a page in size. Other than that, this seems like a good product to introduce new players to the world. Not to heavy on info, but enough for players to base there character from some of the city states described.

I would of maybe liked to see less info on the politics of each of the city states described and maybe more on the the ecology or types of adventures you could have here, like the physical aspects of the state.

I took one star for the lack of art work and to much politics in the descriptions. If it were priced more than 10.99 it would get less stars.


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Excellent! Looking forward to this. :D

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

So, is this the Gazetteer Revisited ?

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Gorbacz wrote:
So, is this the Gazetteer Revisited ?

No, it's a Companion like all the others... you'll get the usual social, magic, religious, and combat and persona sections, with an Inner Sea flavor.

Dark Archive

This is very cool something for players about what i hope is likely common knowledge about the nations.

Paizo Employee Chief Creative Officer, Publisher

This will be designed specifically for players looking to get the "gist" of Golarion without having to read a huge hardcover. It will double as a great player handout for exactly that purpose.

A lot of folks were using the Gazetteer for this purpose, which is cool, but that book was not specifically designed as a player's guide.

This one will be.


Will every nation get its traits?

Every race?

Dark Archive

Erik Mona wrote:

This will be designed specifically for players looking to get the "gist" of Golarion without having to read a huge hardcover. It will double as a great player handout for exactly that purpose.

A lot of folks were using the Gazetteer for this purpose, which is cool, but that book was not specifically designed as a player's guide.

This one will be.

What a great idea! You know, I always hoped FR would get something like this... a question: will it include any "real" hand-outs, or art that represents hand-outs (pieces of letters, symbols, hand-drawn maps, etc.)?

How about the traits -- will all of them be completely new? No mechanical overlap with the new campaign setting book?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

KaeYoss wrote:

Will every nation get its traits?

Every race?

I hope so. That's over 20 races and about 50 regions, though... it's gonna be a tight squeeze! I'd also like to get in religion traits for at least the 20 core deities too...

We'll see how it works out!

Traits are 100% player tools; they're not really meant for NPCs. As a result, there'll be no traits at all in the revised hardcover, I don't think...

Paizo Employee Chief Creative Officer, Publisher

Asgetrion wrote:
Erik Mona wrote:

This will be designed specifically for players looking to get the "gist" of Golarion without having to read a huge hardcover. It will double as a great player handout for exactly that purpose.

A lot of folks were using the Gazetteer for this purpose, which is cool, but that book was not specifically designed as a player's guide.

This one will be.

What a great idea! You know, I always hoped FR would get something like this... a question: will it include any "real" hand-outs, or art that represents hand-outs (pieces of letters, symbols, hand-drawn maps, etc.)?

How about the traits -- will all of them be completely new? No mechanical overlap with the new campaign setting book?

Probably not any "true" handout pages in this. We just don't have the pages to spare.

I don't think we currently have plans to put _any_ traits in the hardcover. Those are usually in the Companions.

Dark Archive

Very cool that is will be specificly for players to get the gist of stuff. Just trying not to get to excited or I won't be able to survive waiting 7 months for it to come out.

Liberty's Edge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

The trait info is very useful, looks like everything is getting worked over a tweaked what with this and the campaign setting, another year of waiting though :)

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, 2011 Top 32, 2012 Top 4

What a great idea! Sold.

Paizo Employee Franchise Manager

This book will be really helpful to have on hand at PFS game days and conventions, as I often spend fifteen minutes or so with a map of the Inner Sea explaining the history and various historical and political relationships of the region to new players. While they couldn't read 32 pages before a game, I could see printing out a few pages of the "overview" to hand out to Pathfinder newbies before expecting them to run a character in the world.

It's certainly more efficient than handing out PathfinderWiki business cards, since they don't have to wait to get home and on the internet to use this.

Dark Archive

Erik Mona wrote:

Probably not any "true" handout pages in this. We just don't have the pages to spare.

Oh, I'm cool with that; it would just have added some extra-cool flavor, but I think the contents are what really matters! :)

Have I ever said you guys absolutely *ROCK*?

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Oh very good

But it´s late ^^

I am starting 2 new campains next Month. XD


If a DM has the Campaign Setting, is there a reason to get this?

Dark Archive

MerrikCale wrote:
If a DM has the Campaign Setting, is there a reason to get this?

Unless I am mistaken, I think this is a player friendly overview of the area. Something a DM can just hand over to their players. Least that was my understanding of what it is meant to be.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Dark_Mistress wrote:
MerrikCale wrote:
If a DM has the Campaign Setting, is there a reason to get this?
Unless I am mistaken, I think this is a player friendly overview of the area. Something a DM can just hand over to their players. Least that was my understanding of what it is meant to be.

It is a player-friendly overview, but, like all Pathfinder Companions, it will also contain the usual social, magic, religious, combat and persona sections, with all-new crunchy bits that players can use to help immerse themselves in the campaign setting as characters from (or just passing through) the Inner Sea region.


I guess the question is if a player gets this on thier own is there any new info a DM might find useful/fun

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

MerrikCale wrote:
I guess the question is if a player gets this on thier own is there any new info a DM might find useful/fun

I don't think an attentive GM will learn much about the world that he doesn't already know, but he might enjoy applying some of the new player options to some of his NPCs...


Vic Wertz wrote:
MerrikCale wrote:
I guess the question is if a player gets this on thier own is there any new info a DM might find useful/fun
I don't think an attentive GM will learn much about the world that he doesn't already know, but he might enjoy applying some of the new player options to some of his NPCs...

There ya go. Good enough for me. I'm in

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

I didn't even know I wanted it and now I'm thrilled that it's coming out.

Paizo are just too good sometimes, it's eerie.


James Jacobs wrote:
KaeYoss wrote:

Will every nation get its traits?

Every race?

I hope so. That's over 20 races and about 50 regions, though... it's gonna be a tight squeeze! I'd also like to get in religion traits for at least the 20 core deities too...

We'll see how it works out!

Traits are 100% player tools; they're not really meant for NPCs. As a result, there'll be no traits at all in the revised hardcover, I don't think...

I'd love to see some traits for followers/victims of Lamashtu myself. All hail the Mother of Monsters!

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 8

Is this still slotted for a November release with the World Guide: Inner Sea pushed back to February?

Dark Archive

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Am I correct in assuming that since the second image in this blog update has the same product code (PZO9414) in its filename as this book that the cover for Inner Sea Primer has been uncovered by a certain pair of curious goblins?

Paizo Employee CEO

Kvantum wrote:
Am I correct in assuming that since the second image in this blog update has the same product code (PZO9414) in its filename as this book that the cover for Inner Sea Primer has been uncovered by a certain pair of curious goblins?

Good eye!

-Lisa

Paizo Employee CEO

Demiurge 1138 wrote:
Is this still slotted for a November release with the World Guide: Inner Sea pushed back to February?

Yes, it will still have the same release date.

-Lisa


Any chance of including specific traits (or even additional feats) for PCs belonging to each of the main factions listed in the Faction Guide?

Paizo Employee Creative Director, Starfinder

Caim01 wrote:
Any chance of including specific traits (or even additional feats) for PCs belonging to each of the main factions listed in the Faction Guide?

It will have traits for every country/region in the Inner Sea region, but there's just not room to focus on the factions as well (especially considering they have their own book already).


Fair enough. In terms of traits relating to Ilizmagorti, are there any designed specifically for characters who belong to the Red Mantis? I had hoped that the 1st Serpent's Skull adventure would give such a trait or two but alas this was not to be.

Dark Archive

Will this be the book that contains info on the Aldori Swordlords and their dueling schools?

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Sean Halloran wrote:
Will this be the book that contains info on the Aldori Swordlords and their dueling schools?

Possibly, but probably not in lots of detail - there's only 32 pages to cover the entire Inner Sea Region.

The campaign setting in Feburary is a more likely bet.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Sean Halloran wrote:
Will this be the book that contains info on the Aldori Swordlords and their dueling schools?

There'll be quite a juicy rules option for Aldori duelests in this book.


Any good stuff for the Ulfen James?


Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Modules, Tales Subscriber
Black Dow wrote:

Any good stuff for the Ulfen James?

Like an illustration of a pretty Ylven? ;) (probably incomprehensible to anyone who doesn't have at least a tiny bit of Scandinavian languages in their knowledge-bank - sorry 'bout that).

Or, to be serious for five seconds, some traits or feats expanding on the Ulfen connection with werewolves and/or the First World?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Black Dow wrote:

Any good stuff for the Ulfen James?

There's traits for almost every region, and since there's a few regions that are Ulfen dominated... yes!


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Modules, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
There's traits for almost every region, and since there's a few regions that are Ulfen dominated... yes!

Speaking of the Ulfen, will the book have any recipes for Keebler Ulf food? I just love the little battleaxe-shaped cookies with the stripes of chocolate on them.

Paizo Employee Chief Creative Officer, Publisher

Those will be in the psionics book.


James Jacobs wrote:
Black Dow wrote:

Any good stuff for the Ulfen James?

There's traits for almost every region, and since there's a few regions that are Ulfen dominated... yes!

Thanks man - I'm a very happy [but impatient] northman now :)

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
Erik Mona wrote:
Those will be in the psionics book.

We're holding you to that.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

GeraintElberion wrote:
Erik Mona wrote:
Those will be in the psionics book.
We're holding you to that.

He didn't say *our* psionics book...


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Vic Wertz wrote:
GeraintElberion wrote:
Erik Mona wrote:
Those will be in the psionics book.
We're holding you to that.
He didn't say *our* psionics book...

So Wayfinder 4 then?

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Justin Franklin wrote:
Vic Wertz wrote:
GeraintElberion wrote:
Erik Mona wrote:
Those will be in the psionics book.
We're holding you to that.
He didn't say *our* psionics book...
So Wayfinder 4 then?

If you submit it, they'll probably print it!


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Vic Wertz wrote:
Justin Franklin wrote:
Vic Wertz wrote:
GeraintElberion wrote:
Erik Mona wrote:
Those will be in the psionics book.
We're holding you to that.
He didn't say *our* psionics book...
So Wayfinder 4 then?
If you submit it, they'll probably print it!

Are you saying they will print anything? ;)


Vic Wertz wrote:
Justin Franklin wrote:
Vic Wertz wrote:
GeraintElberion wrote:
Erik Mona wrote:
Those will be in the psionics book.
We're holding you to that.
He didn't say *our* psionics book...
So Wayfinder 4 then?
If you submit it, they'll probably print it!

Yeah! \m/


Is this product going to be a bit of an exception for companions and be more than 32 pages? I have a hard time seeing how all those regions, races and deities can be slotted into a mere 32 pages - and that is just for the descriptions; how in the world will you still manage to squeeze in traits and player options beyond that?

Did you discover there's a fontsize below 2?


Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Modules, Tales Subscriber

Thanks to Paizo's connections at CERN, they will soon be able to publish all their material using dark matter.

Contributor

It's still 32 pages. It's intended as an overview of the setting, much as you might have a 32-page traveler's guide to Europe, giving a rough idea of a couple of countries per page.
Players wanting more info can go to the appropriate Companion about that country, or the GM can provide a (censored/spoiler-free) look at the material in the campaign setting.

Dark Archive

Sean K Reynolds wrote:

It's still 32 pages. It's intended as an overview of the setting, much as you might have a 32-page traveler's guide to Europe, giving a rough idea of a couple of countries per page.

Players wanting more info can go to the appropriate Companion about that country, or the GM can provide a (censored/spoiler-free) look at the material in the campaign setting.

+1.


Thanks Mr Reynolds :) - the new traits make me excited, but I hope that there's enough space to actually squeeze in new information about the many regions.

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